Chinese Medicine for Sleep: Acupressure Massage 

 March 10, 2021

By  Juli Kramer, PhD

There are wonderful ways to use Chinese medicine for sleep. One powerful tool is TCM acupressure massage for better sleep. Why do you need tools to help you sleep?

By way of illustration, you just need to look at your day. Your mind is bombarded with thoughts all day. What will my boss think? What time do I pick up the kids? How bad will traffic be? What should I make for dinner? In addition to these daily thoughts, you worry about the past, the future, people you love, and even people you barely know. Judgments of self and others, negative thoughts of different shapes and sizes flood your mind.

Chinese medicine for sleep

Specifically to address overthinking, you can learn from Chinese medicine. According to Chinese medicine, overthinking prevents a relaxed state, which in turn affects your sleep. Sometimes it means you cannot fall asleep easily. Other times it means that you wake up in the middle of the night and your thoughts start racing. Label it what you will - insomnia, restlessness, difficulty falling asleep - your mind cannot settle and allow you to get the rest you need.

Also, imbalances in Yin and Yang prevent you from calming and having a good night's sleep. These imbalances also lead to overthinking. Specific colors of food and Chinese super foods can help bring the body back into balance so you can sleep better.

Chinese acupressure massage for sleep can also help bring the body into balance, AND calm your mind. A calm mind and balanced body will help you sleep better and stay healthy.

Chinese acupressure massage for sleep

When you do Chinese acupressure massage for sleep, you are massaging the outer body. However, according to Chinese medicine and meridian theory, the massage helps qi and blood flow throughout your entire body. This free flowing movement of qi has a calming effect on your nervous system, which will help you sleep.

In summary, you can feel an immediate sense of calm and release when massaging specific points, because you are releasing blocked energy. This sense of calm will help slow the chatter in your mind, preparing you for sleep. Not only do you calm the mind, you calm your spirit, leading to better well being.

Acupressure massage for two people

If you live with someone, you can follow the massage pattern in the video below to use the wisdom of Chinese medicine for sleep. This ancient tuina massage pattern will relax the mind and allow for deep, restful sleep.

Acupressure massage for one person

Perform the following Chinese medicine for better sleep massage techniques before bed. You might want to practice during the day a few times, so you are familiar with each technique. 

Also, you might need to do the acupressure massage for sleep earlier in the evening if you find it energizes instead of relaxes you. Setting the intention that you are using acupressure massage to relax your mind will help.

For example, as you massage, picture energy moving down from your head, through your body, and out your feet into the earth. This will ground you and calm what Chinese medicine for sleep calls the "monkey mind." The "monkey mind" is the racing thoughts that are everywhere but the present. They carry you to the past and future, instead of focusing on relaxing you in the here and now.

Sleep better acupressure massage sequence

Eyebrow sweeps Chinese medicine for sleep acupressure massage
  • Bend fingers of both hands
  • Place the bent knuckle of the index finger on the inside of each eyebrow (left on left side and right on right)
  • Swipe from the center of the brow to the outside of the brow
  • Repeat 30 times
Circle the temples Chinese medicine for sleep acupressure massage
  • For this acupressure massage for sleep, place right thumb on right temple
  • Massage in a clockwise circle 30 times
  • Repeat on the left side
Rake the hair and massage the head Chinese acupressure massage
  • Place fingertips on your forehead (left thumb on right temple, and right thumb on right temple)
  • Knead for 2-3 seconds
  • Sweep the fingers of both hands upward to the top of the head
  • Continue to sweep down until the base of the skull, just above the neck
  • Repeat 30 times
Pat the Bai Hui point Chinese acupressure massage for sleep
  • For this Chinese medicine for sleep technique, pat the top of your head (Bai Hui point) with your full hand 10-30 times
  • Switch hands and repeat on the other side
Massage the feng chi points Chinese acupressure massage
  • Press the base of skull (Feng Chi point) with thumbs
  • Knead for 3 seconds
  • Repeat 30 times
Sweep down the arms Chinese acupressure massage for sleep
  • Sweep down the inside of the lower arm with the opposite hand.
  • Repeat 30 times for each arm
Circular massage of lower abdomen Chinese acupressure massageSweep down the arms Chinese acupressure massage
  • Rub abdomen, just above the belly button, in a circular, clockwise motion
  • Ideally rub for 5 minutes, but make sure to complete 30 rotations when doing this acupressure massage for sleep method
Massage Ting Hui points Chinese acupressure massageSweep down the arms Chinese acupressure massage
  • With index and middle finger, rub the auricle of the ear in a clockwise motion (the auricle is located where the jaw meets the skull) (Ting Hui point area)
  • Rub left auricle with left fingers, and right auricle with right fingers
  • Ideally rub for 2 minutes, but complete at least 30 rotations

You deserve to sleep better and the wisdom of Chinese medicine for sleep can help you. Just remember, as Finding Joy reminds us, "Your body is not Amazon Prime. It takes more than two days to heal."

Be consistent and patient with your acupressure massage for sleep practice. You might notice changes immediately, or it might take longer. Addressing your sleep problems from multiple angles can speed up the process, but you will get there. Have a loving attitude towards your body. It wants to help you, and it will.


Follow us on YouTube and Pinterest for more great resources on how to sleep better and live a happy and healthy life.

Juli Kramer, PhD


Dr. Juli Kramer earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with a cognate in Counseling Psychology and her M.A. in Psychology. She has a diploma in Chinese Medicine Nutritional Therapy, and certificates in Chinese medicine from Dr. Zhang Yifang, Shanghai World Hospital, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. With over 30 years of experience as an educator, Dr. Kramer founded Radiant Shenti to teach people how Chinese medicine (TCM) can help them lead healthy, happy, and long lives.

What's something new you learned?

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}