Qi Gong & Insomnia Resources

When I had cancer as a college student, I struggled to get a full night’s rest. I would wake up at 2 a.m and then look at the clock every 30 minutes until the sun rose. I was frustrated as I tried everything from exercise to regular sleep schedules. This lack of sleep would cause a ripple effect. I would not sleep well for weeks and then not be able to function in daily life — such as forgetting my passwords or where I was walking to. I was scared because I did not know whether this was for a short time or forever.

Everyone wants a good sleep. Some friends describe waking up in the middle of the night because of social suffering and reading social media. Other friends talk about not being able to fall asleep because of noise in the dormitory. Still others share they unable to have a restful sleep because they don’t want to burden others with their problems.

How many hours we sleep and whether we wake up rested are also affected by things beyond our individual choices and behaviors. These outside things like roommates or access to resources (e.g. citizenship, healthcare, food, housing, jobs, etc.) influence our ability to adequately and effectively incorporate health recommendations to sleep 7 – 9 hours a night.  (DelRosso 2020)


(The content of this web site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.)


Qi Gong (pronounced chee-gong) is an ancient and contemporary Chinese exercise that combines movement, breathing, awareness, and body posture.  There are many forms and styles of Qi Gong, ranging from robust movements to meditation in still poses. For many, Qi Gong calms and tones the nervous system, builds whole-body coordination, and supports mental focus with a relaxed yet energized feeling. Some describe a deeply rooted, quiet joy when practicing qi gong.


Insomnia is one type of sleep disorder.  Some insomnia symptoms include:

* difficulty falling asleep

* waking up throughout the night

* waking up too early

* feeling tired upon waking up

* having at least one daytime problem such as fatigue; sleepiness; problems with mood, concentration.

  • Approximately 1 in 4 women has some insomnia symptoms.
  • Up to 60% of all college students in the U.S. suffer from a poor sleep quality, and 7.7% meet all criteria of an insomnia disorder. Sleep problems have a great impact on the students’ daily life. (Schlarb et. al. 2017
  • Research shows that the majority of refugees had moderate to severe insomnia.  (Al-Smadi, 2019; Sankari, 2019)
  • Sleep disorders are on the rise. It is estimated that 75% percent of American adults experience sleep disorder symptoms at least a few nights a week.



Scholarship suggests that mindfulness may lessen insomnia and improve sleep. (Campo et. al. 2015; Irwin et. al. 2014; Irwin et. al. 2017; Ong and Sholtes, 2010; Ong et. al. 2014; Zhang et. al. 2015)

Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. (Thích Nhất Hạnh, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Diana Winston, Kristin Neff)

“Mindfulness is when you are truly there, mind and body together. You breathe in and out mindfully, you bring your mind back to your body, and you are there. When your mind is there with your body, you are established in the present moment.  ”(Thích Nhất Hạnh )

Mindful movement may elicit the relaxation response to clear the mind, calm the body, and address sleeplessness.  From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, it may remove energy blocks and nourish the qi/energy for a feeling of calm alertness and create the conditions for a nourishing sleep. Continued practice of still and moving mindfulness is like building muscle to help the body, spirit, and mind release and relax to sleep. 


* Slow Down: 5 Minute Meditations (Larry Ward)

* Calm Breathing GIFS

* Thích Nhất Hạnh & Plum Village: Namo Avalokiteshvara Chant (15m)

* Traditional Chinese Medicine exercises in many languages (Capacitar)

* Sit So You Can Stand, Podcast practice (Dr. Pimentel, UCLA MARC, Hammer Museum) (30m)

* Loving Kindness Meditation (9m) (Diana Winston)

* Guided Meditations in Multiple Languages (UCLA MARC) 

* Giving and Receiving Compassion (21m) (Chris Germer)

* (Written) I Can Breathe: A Meditation On Surviving Acts of Hatred (Zenju Earthlyn Manuel)


* I Vow Not to Burn Out (Mushim Patricia Ikeda)

* How to Let Anger Out: (9m18s) (Thích Nhất Hạnh)

* The Role of Spiritual Practice in Social Justice Work (Ericka Huggins, former member of Black Panther Party, activist) (26m)

* Meditation in Times of Crisis (Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams on 10% Happier) (23m) (includes interview, 5 minute practice, Q&A such as relationship of mindfulness and social justice)


Vagus Nerve

Secondary Traumatic Stress (NCTSN)

Lens of Systemic Oppression

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Trauma, and Social Location

How Trauma Can Affect Your Window of Tolerance (NICABM)

How Trauma Impacts Four Different Types of Memory (NICABM)

Coping with PTSD

How to Implement Trauma-Informed Care to Build Resilience to Childhood Trauma

Review Article: Klein et.al. (2017)  Meditative Movement, Energetic, and Physical Analyses of Three Qi Gong Exercises: Unification of Eastern and Western Mechanistic Exercise Theory