July 20, 2024

Litum Health

Health Blog

The Role of TCM in Addressing Insomnia Patterns Among University Students

3 min read

As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, staring at my laptop screen with a cup of cold coffee by my side, I can’t help but marvel at the irony. Here I am, a university student studying health sciences, falling victim to one of the most common health issues among students – insomnia.

In my quest for a solution, I came across Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Intrigued by its holistic approach and millennia-old wisdom, I decided to delve deeper into understanding how TCM addresses insomnia patterns, particularly among university students like myself.

The TCM Perspective on Insomnia

In TCM, insomnia isn’t merely viewed as difficulty sleeping. Instead, it’s seen as a symptom of an imbalance in the body’s Qi (pronounced “chi”), or vital energy. This perspective is quite different from Western medicine, which often treats insomnia as a standalone disorder.

According to TCM, there are various types of insomnia, each associated with a different pattern of Qi imbalance. For instance, difficulty falling asleep is linked to an imbalance in the Heart and Gallbladder Qi, while frequent waking up in the night is associated with an imbalance in the Kidney and Heart Qi.

TCM Insomnia Patterns Among University Students

In my experience, and that of many of my peers, the most common TCM insomnia patterns we encounter are related to stress and anxiety. We often find it hard to switch off our minds, especially when exams are looming or assignments are piling up. In TCM terms, this can be attributed to an imbalance in the Liver Qi, which governs the smooth flow of emotions.

Another prevalent pattern is waking up frequently during the night. This could be due to late-night study sessions, irregular sleep schedules, or the simple stress of juggling multiple responsibilities. According to TCM, this pattern may indicate a Kidney and Heart Qi imbalance.

How TCM Can Help

So, how can TCM help address these insomnia patterns? The answer lies in its holistic approach, which aims to restore balance rather than just treating the symptoms.

For instance, to soothe an overactive mind (a Liver Qi imbalance), TCM might recommend practices like meditation or Tai Chi to promote relaxation. Dietary adjustments, such as including more calming foods like chamomile or lotus seeds, might also be suggested.

For those of us waking up frequently during the night (a Kidney and Heart Qi imbalance), TCM might recommend nourishing the kidneys with foods like black sesame seeds or walnuts. Gentle exercises that support kidney health, like certain forms of Qigong, could also be beneficial.

A Student’s Journey with TCM

As I started incorporating TCM principles into my routine, I noticed a gradual improvement in my sleep patterns. The late-night tossing and turning reduced, and I started feeling more rested in the mornings. But what I valued most was the newfound understanding of my body and its needs.

TCM taught me that sleep isn’t something to be forced, but a natural process that comes when the body and mind are in harmony. It reminded me to listen to my body, to respect its signals, and to prioritize balance in all aspects of my life.


In the whirlwind of university life, sleep often takes a backseat. But as I’ve learned, ignoring sleep issues only leads to bigger problems down the line. Thankfully, approaches like TCM offer a different perspective, one that emphasizes balance, understanding, and holistic well-being.

As I wrap up this piece, it’s still late, and there’s still work to be done. But now, I approach my nights differently. I listen to my body, I respect its needs, and when it’s time to rest, I set my work aside.

After all, university is not just about grades and achievements; it’s also about learning to take care of ourselves – a lesson that TCM has beautifully highlighted for me.