Sleep problems are a growing concern for many people in a fast-paced modern world. Difficulty falling asleep, early waking, frequent waking, and feeling tired even after spending seven hours in bed are all symptoms of insomnia. Although these symptoms are typical in small amounts, multiple nights of poor sleep may be a problem. With more people suffering from lack of sleep than ever before, many are turning to natural treatments like acupuncture which works well when combined with other natural therapies and good sleep hygiene.
Treating Insomnia with Acupuncture
When treating insomnia, acupuncture works from two fronts. The first is stress relief. Stress is first and foremost a survival instinct. It's meant to trigger your fight or flight response. Unfortunately, chronic stress causes the continued release of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, neither of which are meant to be continually released into the body. Chronic stress can create a cycle where stress leads to insomnia and insomnia increases stress.
Acupuncture can be used to target stress by using tiny needles to bring blood and heat to specific pressure points. Acupuncture treatments can decrease stress in rats. The effectiveness of acupuncture for reducing stress has been tested on students at a large urban university. After six weeks of regular acupuncture treatments, the participants reported significantly lower stress for up to 12 weeks after the study had concluded. As tension releases, it becomes easier to fall and stay asleep.
The second way that acupuncture can help reduce insomnia is by triggering the release of melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate your body's internal clock. Production of this hormone typically increases as it starts to get dark outside and decreases as the sun begins to come up. Acupuncture can help stimulate the release of melatonin at night, which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Many people often use herbal therapies for insomnia. Acupuncture and herbs used together can increase the number of hours you sleep versus using herbs alone.
Don’t Forget Good Sleep Habits
Acupuncture can work wonders for your sleep. However, if you're not working on developing good sleep hygiene, it won't be nearly as effective. Your sleep hygiene includes all the habits and behaviors in your life that contribute to the quantity and quality of your sleep.
For those struggling to get enough sleep at night, it's important to remember that everything you do throughout the day can come back to affect your rest. A few ways to develop good sleep hygiene include:
A Consistent Sleep-Wake Schedule: A consistent schedule allows your body to establish and follow its internal clock. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time on weekdays and weekends.
Developing a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Routines help you relax and help trigger the release of sleep hormones.
Turning Off Electronics: The light from electronics can suppress the release of melatonin. Turn them off two to three hours before bed to prevent sleep disruptions.
Getting Plenty of Natural Light Throughout the Day: Light plays a role in the timing of your sleep-wake schedule. Try to get outside as much as possible during the day while keeping your inside lighting dim at night.
Before changing habits and routines, consider your sleep conditions. If you’re sharing a mattress with a partner, the bed should minimize the disruptive motions of your partner. At night, a dark, cool, quiet bedroom gives you the best chances for uninterrupted sleep.
If you or someone you know is suffering from sleeping difficulties, click here to schedule your acupuncture appointment with Essential Natural Health today.
Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.