Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
What would you recommend for restless sleep? According to my partner, I toss and turn all night. Then I sleep excessively—sometimes 12 hours a day; 8 hours just doesn’t seem to be enough. Is my bad quality of sleep causing me this fatigue and desire to sleep all day?
A: I believe the restless sleep and excessive sleep are directly related. When your sleep is restless, you do not enter REM sleep, which is when most of the benefit of sleep is received. Because your body lacks REM sleep, it wants to sleep more.
I recommend the following: 1. Check to see if you have restless leg syndrome or melatonin deficiencies.
2. Try to go to bed before 9:00 PM. Do not eat anything after 7:00 PM and take a relaxing 20-minute walk 1 hour before bed.
3. Modify your diet to exclude or limit dairy products, alcohol, smoking or other stimulants. Eat small meals four to five times per day. Drink tea instead of coffee. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can also be of help. I recommend you consult a licensed practitioner to determine the proper course of action.
Additionally, you might try the following Traditions of Tao herbal formulas to help relax the shen (spirit) and calm the mind: “Anxiety/Sleepless” and “Sleep”. You can also use the “Emotional Tranquility” tea. Of course, discuss with your physician before beginning any new health regime.