While everyone has trouble sleeping now and then, those who have acute insomnia face sleep deprivation for days. People with chronic insomnia may not sleep well for months. Sleep deprivation weighs you down physically, mentally, and emotionally, making it hard to stay on top of the responsibilities in your life. Acupuncture can reduce the symptoms of insomnia so you can get the full seven to eight hours of sleep you need.
The symptoms of insomnia are generally described as:
the inability to fall asleep
frequently waking up during the night with problems falling back asleep
waking too early in the morning
feeling tired upon awakening
A chronic case of insomnia can lead to prolonged sleep deprivation and a whole host of sleep-related problems. Sleep deprivation causes the neurons in the brain to slow down, affecting reasoning abilities, decision-making skills, and reaction times. Your emotional regulation also suffers because the emotional center of the brain reacts stronger to stressors, even little ones. You'll also face changes in appetite control and metabolism, which can lead to unwanted weight gain. Prolonged sleep deprivation also puts you at risk for conditions and illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression, and anxiety.
Acupuncture has been shown to help ease the symptoms of insomnia and its side effects. It focuses on specific focal points and helps the body balance itself out for better health. A study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry found that acupuncture increased the release of melatonin, a vital sleep hormone, while reducing general anxiety and anxiety surrounding the onset of sleep. When acupuncture is used along with herbal remedies, it improves the amount of sleep better than when herbs are used alone.
Along with acupuncture, you can develop good sleep hygiene, which is all the habits in your life that contribute to the quality of your sleep. Getting better sleep starts with the conditions and environment in your bedroom. Check your mattress for any lumps or valleys that could be causing discomfort during the night. You should also look for a bed that supports your preferred sleep position. Softer mattresses may work better for side sleepers than back sleepers. After that, try to keep the room cool, dark, and quiet to promote the highest quality of sleep.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Your circadian rhythms, the regular 24-hour biological cycles the body follows, help control your sleep-wake patterns. By keeping a regular schedule, you help train the mind and body to fall asleep at the same time every day.
You might want to consider developing a relaxing bedtime routine to help you relieve stress and anxiety. Yoga, meditation, or tai chi are natural ways you can help your body relax to improve your sleep, and all can be used as part of a bedtime routine. Just be sure to perform the routine in the same order at the same time each day.
You can also up your sleep hours with over-the-counter supplements like melatonin or Valerian. When used in conjunction with acupuncture, you can reduce your symptoms of insomnia and finally get some much-needed rest. Talk to your physician about finding a qualified acupuncturist. You might want to take the time to talk to the acupuncturist first to be sure that your goals and expectations align.
Written by: Ellie Porter
Managing Editor | SleepHelp.org