Relieve Insomnia with Acupuncture and Other Natural Alternatives
Thirty-five percent of adults in the United States report getting less than seven hours of sleep.
Unfortunately, that puts you in a state of sleep deprivation. The high-stress environment often found in the modern world is what drives many people to sleeplessness. That’s where good sleep hygiene and acupuncture can relieve stress and help you get a good night’s rest.
The Symptoms of Insomnia and the Stress-Sleep Deprivation Cycle
You’ll recognize many of the symptoms of insomnia like difficulty falling asleep at night, frequent night waking, waking too early, and daytime tiredness despite being in bed for seven to eight hours. There are other symptoms you may not have linked to insomnia such as irritability, anxiety, and depression, difficulty focusing, clumsiness or accidents, and increased stress about falling asleep.
Easing the symptoms of insomnia often starts with stress management. Stress and sleep deprivation go hand-in-hand. Stress causes you to get a lousy night’s sleep. But, when you’re sleep deprived, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions, becomes more sensitive to negative stimuli. At the same time the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher reasoning functions, becomes less active. Consequently, your negative emotions become amplified, which increases feelings of stress and anxiety.
If the stress-sleep deprivation cycle continues long enough, stress can start to develop around the inability to fall and stay asleep, compounding the problem. However, you can use good sleep hygiene and acupuncture to break the cycle.
Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene includes all the behaviors and activities in your life that contribute to the quantity and quality of your sleep. It all starts in a bedroom that’s devoted to sleep. Your bed should support your preferred sleep position. Mattress reviews may help you determine if your bed suits your need. Also, try keeping the room cool, dark, and quiet to prevent distractions.
A few behaviors that can help you sleep better include:
Keeping a Regular Bedtime: Your body relies on regular 24-hour cycles called circadian rhythms to time your sleep-wake cycle. A consistent bedtime helps your body acclimate to your sleep schedule for the correctly timed release of sleep hormones.
Eating Smart and Healthy: Heavy, high-fat foods and stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime can both interfere with your sleep cycle. Stimulants should be avoided at least four hours before bed, and try to eat an early, light dinner to aid the onset of sleep.
- Developing a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: A bedtime routine both triggers the release of sleep hormones and gives you a way to leave stress before bed. Reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to quiet music are a few different ways to start a healthy bedtime routine.
Acupuncture to Break the Stress-Sleep Deprivation Cycle
Sometimes you need extra help to break the stress-sleep deprivation cycle. When used along with good sleep habits, acupuncture can help you manage stress and sleep better.
In a study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry Clinical Neuroscience, 18 participants who reported symptoms of anxiety and sleeplessness were treated with acupuncture for five weeks. At the conclusion of the study, the participants’ sleep duration increased due to increases in the release of melatonin, a vital sleep hormone. Participants also reported lower levels of anxiety and improved ability to relax. Acupuncture has also been shown to improve the results of herbal sleep remedies.
If insomnia interferes with your professional or personal life, sleep hygiene and acupuncture might be the right way for you to get the rest you need. Before you know it, you’ll have more energy and feel like yourself again.
The Healing Point Acupuncture Clinic
Xia Xin, L.Ac., CSMA