Dream disturbed sleep according to Chinese Medicine

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Dream disturbed sleep can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like dream disturbed sleep here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here dream disturbed sleep is often associated with insomnia, dizziness and pale lips in the pattern “Liver Blood Deficiency”. As you will see below, we have in record five patterns that can cause dream disturbed sleep.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of dream disturbed sleep we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat dream disturbed sleep.

The five "patterns of disharmony" that can cause dream disturbed sleep

In Chinese Medicine dream disturbed sleep is a symptom for 5 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

The Liver is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Liver in Chinese Medicine

Liver Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

The Liver stores Blood, that is the reason any Blood Deficiency often involves the Liver. This pattern has an impact on areas the Liver relates to, such as the tendons, eyes, nails and menstruation. It arises from the same causes of general Blood Deficiency, such as poor diet, hemorrhages or Kidney Qi or Essence Deficiency.

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Liver Blood Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and pale lips.

Liver Blood Deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Liver Blood Deficiency here

The Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Heart Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Thin

Heart Blood Deficiency hurts the Mind (神 Shen) and it causes insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, poor memory, dizziness and tendency to be scared. It can be caused by Deficient Spleen Qi that fails to produce Blood, long-term anxiety and worry, a severe blood loss and excessive workload.

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Heart Blood Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heart Blood Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Postpartum Depression.

Heart Blood Deficiency is often treated with Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Heart Blood Deficiency here

The Pericardium is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Pericardium in Chinese Medicine

Pericardium Blood Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Choppy (Se), Fine (Xi)

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Pericardium Blood Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Pericardium Blood Deficiency is often treated with Shen Qi Si Wu Tang, a herbal formula made of 6 herbs (including Prepared Rehmannia - Shu Di huang - as a key herb). Shen Qi Si Wu Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that tonify blood", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Restores and nourishes Blood".

Read more about Pericardium Blood Deficiency here

The Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Heart Yin Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Empty (Xu), Fine (Xi), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Red

This pattern developed from Heart Blood Deficiency. It shares similar symptoms as the latter one, such as insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, easily to be scared, poor memory and anxiety, but it also has additional empty Heat symptoms. It can be caused by Kidney Yin Deficiency or other factors such as bad diet, overwork or long term exposure to stress or hot environment.

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Heart Yin Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heart Yin Deficiency is associated with health issues such as Absence Of Menstruation or Postpartum Depression.

Heart Yin Deficiency is often treated with Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan, a herbal formula made of 14 herbs (including Unprepared Rehmannia - Di Huang - as a key herb). Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan belongs to the category of "formulas that nourish the heart and calm the mind", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney".

Read more about Heart Yin Deficiency here

The Heart is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Heart in Chinese Medicine

Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart

Pulse type(s): Overflowing (Hong), Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian), Full (Shi)

In addition to dream disturbed sleep, other symptoms associated with Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart include insomnia, palpitations and anxiety.

Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart is often treated with Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Crow-Dipper Rhizomes - Ban Xia - as a key herb). Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that dry dampness and transform phlegm", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Hot Phlegm".

Read more about Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart here

Five herbal formulas that might help with dream disturbed sleep

Bu Gan Tang

Source date: 1742 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and regulates the Blood. Nourishes the Liver Yin.

Why might Bu Gan Tang help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Liver Blood Deficiency' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Liver Blood Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and pale lips.

Read more about Bu Gan Tang here

Gui Pi Tang

Source date: 1529 AD

Number of ingredients: 12 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and nourish Qi and Blood. Tonifies Heart and Spleen.

Why might Gui Pi Tang help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Blood Deficiency' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Blood Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Read more about Gui Pi Tang here

Shen Qi Si Wu Tang

Source date: 846 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Restores and nourishes Blood. Stimulates Blood circulation. Tonifies Qi.

Why might Shen Qi Si Wu Tang help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Pericardium Blood Deficiency' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Pericardium Blood Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Read more about Shen Qi Si Wu Tang here

Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan

Source date: 16th century

Number of ingredients: 14 herbs

Key actions: Nutritive tonic: Nourishes Yin, Blood and Vital Essence of the Heart and Kidney. Clears away pathogenic Heat, clears Deficient Heat. Sedative.

Why might Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heart Yin Deficiency' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Heart Yin Deficiency include insomnia, dizziness and palpitations.

Read more about Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan here

Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang

Source date: 1852 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Clears Hot Phlegm. Clears Gallbladder Heat. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Why might Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Phlegm-Fire harassing the Heart' of which dream disturbed sleep is a symptom.

Other symptoms characteristic of Phlegm-Fire Harassing The Heart include insomnia, palpitations and anxiety.

Read more about Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang here

Acupuncture points used for dream disturbed sleep

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat dream disturbed sleep

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Bu Gan Tang or Gui Pi Tang for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Stomach, the Heart and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Dong Quai (Dang Gui) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because Dong Quai is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Si Wu Tang or Bu Gan Tang for instance.

Dong Quai is a Warm herb that tastes Pungent and Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Lubricates the Intestines. Relieve constipation. Promotes circulation and dispels Bi Pain. Reduce Dysmenorrhea and help with irregular menstruation.

Read more about Dong Quai here

Why might White Peony Root (Bai Shao) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because White Peony Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Si Wu Tang or Bu Gan Tang for instance.

White Peony Roots is a Neutral herb that tastes Bitter and Sour. It targets the Spleen and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood and preserves the Yin. Nourishes the Liver and assists in the smooth flow of Qi. Regulates the meridians and eases the pain.

Read more about White Peony Roots here

Why might Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di Huang) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because Prepared Rehmannia is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Bu Gan Tang or Sheng Yu Tang for instance.

Prepared Rehmannia is a Warm herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Kidney and the Liver.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Blood. Tonifies the Yin of the Kidneys.

Read more about Prepared Rehmannia here

Why might Poria-Cocos Mushroom (Fu Ling) help with dream disturbed sleep?

Because Poria-Cocos Mushroom is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat dream disturbed sleep as a symptom, like Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan or Huang Lian Wen Dan Tang for instance.

Poria-Cocos Mushrooms is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Spleen, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung.

Its main actions are: Encourages urination and drains Dampness. Tonic to the Spleen/Stomach. Assists the Heart and calms the Spirit.

Read more about Poria-Cocos Mushrooms here