top of page

TCM Nutritional Tips To Combat Insomnia

TCM nutrition for insomnia

Not getting a good night's sleep is no joke. The unfortunate news is that around 10-30% of adults are struggling with insomnia. In the past two years since the pandemic, I have seen an uptake in patients struggling with insomnia.

In this blog, I hope to give you some nutritional tips that might help you start sleeping better. Certain foods can help with sleeping hormones while other foods can act like stimulates and disrupt sleep.

Sleeping problems is nothing new in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). People have been struggling with sleep for thousands of years. When a patient comes to see me for insomnia issues, I uncover the root cause of the problem and I can treat it with acupuncture, herbal medicine, ear seed therapy, and nutrition.

Different Types Of Insomnia

Let's take a quick look at some common insomnia patterns that I see all the time in clinic.

  1. Difficulty falling asleep

  2. Waking up around 2:00-3:00 and feeling wired

  3. Difficulty falling back to sleep once awakened like if you have to urinate

  4. Waking up too early like 5:00 and can't fall back to sleep

These patterns are all too common in my practice. Ideally we want to get anywhere from 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. This is when our body is healing, undergoing cellular repair, and rejuvenation. So it is vital to have good sleep to maintain optimal health.

TCM Causes Of Insomnia

There are a few factors that are causing one to have sleep problems. It is important to examine one's lifestyle and circumstances that could be causing inner imbalance in the body.

  1. Mental and Emotional Health-high stress, worrying, anxiety, trauma, depression

  2. Overworked

  3. Excessive exercise

  4. Poor diet

All these factors will disrupt the proper functions of all the systems in the body which will then create a ripple effect in the body resulting in more imbalances.

Diet And Sleep Problems

Proper nutrition is very important when it comes to good sleep. TCM has perfected the use of food as medicine.

Nutritionally we want to consume foods that will increase the production of melatonin. I don't recommend taking a melatonin supplement, because this can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance. Instead let's focus on proper nutrition that will help our body make the hormones needed. Your body knows exactly what to do.

TCM Nutritional Tips To Improve Sleep

  • Avoid eating or snacking after 8:00 pm

  • Limit the amount of protein at dinner. It takes a great deal of energy to digest and break down protein. Protein has a stimulating effect on the body.

  • Consume foods that are cooling in nature and avoid hot spicy foods. Some foods can disrupt your sleep due to its stimulating effects on the body.

  • Avoid drinking alcohol in the evenings


  • Large amount of vegetables at dinner, which will provide your body with the proper amount of minerals needed to make calming hormones. Important minerals for sleep are magnesium, potassium, and selenium.

  • Drink tart cherry juice at night.

Tart cherries increases your body's production of the sleeping hormone melatonin and tryptophan that is needed to make melatonin.

Purchase organic tart cherry juice with no sugar added. Add 1 tbsp of cherry juice to 1 glass of filtered water. Drink 2 hours before bed.

Check out a short video of how to make tart cherry juice drink for insomnia.

  • Increase foods that contain Melatonin. This hormone is responsible for sleep.

Goji berries


Wild Salmon



  • Increase foods that contain Tryptophan, which acts like a sedative. Remember how you feel after eating turkey on Thanksgiving. Tryptophan is a neurotransmitter that helps makes the hormone melatonin and the neurotransmitter serotonin.





  • Increase foods that contain Seratonin. Low levels of this neurotransmitter is linked to insomnia. Serotonin is required to convert it into melatonin.






  • Avoid consuming stimulates like caffeine and chocolate at night.

This blog provides you with some nutritional tips to support your body so you can sleep well while eliminating foods that can disrupt your sleep. The goal is support the hormones needed to help you sleep. Give it a try for 1 week and see if you notice any improvements. Please seek help if you are struggling with major stressors in your life.

couple sleeping and not having insomnia since getting acupuncture at Chapel Hill acupuncture clinic

If you are still struggling after making these nutritional changes for insomnia then you might need some additional help and support. Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and ear seed therapy is very effective at improving your sleep. Please contact me so we can get you sleeping like a baby again.

In good health and restful sleep!


Stacy Spence, L.Ac., MSOM


Disclaimer: Vibrant Life Acupuncture and it’s owner, Stacy Spence, and it’s employees do not in any way claim that Chinese Medicine, either Acupucture or Chinese Herbal medicine, can cure any other chronic or acute disease.


Featured Posts

Recent Posts


Stay In Touch

  • Instagram
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page