Do you notice how well you sleep after acupuncture? A meta analysis of 46 randomized trials shows that “acupuncture may have a beneficial effect on insomnia compared with Western medication.” This is great news for those wanting a natural drug free way to help get better sleep!
Insomnia is a problem that plagues approximately 30% of the world’s population. Sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep, sometimes it’s hard to stay asleep, and sometimes it’s a double whammy of both scenarios. Lack of sleep can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Stress or anxiety
- Side effects of medication
- Caffeine or nicotine
- Physical discomfort
- Sinus conditions or illness
- Environmental factors such as noise, light pollution, or temperature variances
Chronic lack of quality sleep can be detrimental to your health in a number of ways. In addition to mentally putting you in a fog, insomnia can increase your chances of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. Research shows that many of our hormone pathways are dependent on good sleep in order to function correctly, including those that govern reproduction, appetite control, and insulin sensitivity. Good sleep is important on so many levels!
In Chinese Medicine, we have fun terms like Heart/Kidney Disharmony and Liver Fire as ways to diagnose your pattern of insomnia. We look in terms of deficiencies (not staying asleep due to light sleeping) and excesses (tossing/turning, restlessness, palpitations), and we use the pulse and tongue in addition to your symptom pattern to help confirm your diagnosis. We then use your diagnosis to select points to needle on your treatment plan. Some of these points are calming and nourishing, some clear heat, some regulate qi in the organs, so depending on what is problematic in your sleep, we have strategies to address your issues.
Experts tell us to develop good pre-bedtime habits in order to improve quality of sleep. Turning off all electronic devices including your phone and e-readers 30 minutes before you turn in. Mindfulness activities such as meditation or deep breathing can also be beneficial. I personally recommend EFT, or tapping on certain acupuncture points to calm the mind, as mentioned in a previous post. There are supplements and herbal formulas that can be helpful including melatonin and valerian. I love Herbalogic’s Solid Eight, a Chinese herbal formula that can be found at Whole Foods or Central Market. A favorite essential oil sprayed on the pillow can be calming. If your issue is pain waking you up, applying a heating pad with some tiger balm (or ice if that works better) applied to the area can help the pain. And of course one should come in for a series of acupuncture treatments. If sleep is something you struggle with, make an appointment today!