In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is generally thought that a healthy person sleeps through the night, undisturbed by dreams. This is due to the smooth flow of qi throughout our bodies. The term “qi” is often translated as “energy”, but I prefer to translate it as “function”. Each of our organs rely on the others to function properly. Our lung function relies on our heart function, which relies on our kidney function and so on. Try to visualize this as an interconnected cycle of proper organ function. That “function” that is cycling through each organ system, is our qi.
According to TCM, during the day, the body’s qi circulates on the body’s surface through meridians, which are channels that are connected to respective organ systems. Smooth flow of this qi allows each organ system to function properly. At night, our qi moves to the interior of the body to allow for rest and healing. When this cycle is interrupted, sleep disorders such as insomnia can occur, as well as vivid dreaming and nightmares.
Each TCM organ system is also related to an element; wood, fire, earth, metal, water. Certain elemental themes or objects that appear in dreams are associated with different organ systems. For example, the liver system is associated with wood. If you frequently have vivid dreams about walking through a forest, that might lead a TCM practitioner to ask questions about other signs and symptoms that are associated with the liver in Chinese medicine. These may include questions about stress levels, physical injuries, anger, food preferences, menstrual cycles, and others. Vivid dreams are also often associated with sudden physical, social and emotional changes.
Dreams are an interesting diagnostic tool for TCM practitioners as they can provide subtle clues to hidden imbalances in the body. Be sure to mention if you have any vivid or recurring dreams at your next appointment here at EastWest Acupuncture!