Insomnia and Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
A preliminary report in 2004 found that in patients with anxiety, acupuncture increased nighttime melatonin production and total sleep time. The patients who received acupuncture also fell asleep faster, were less aroused at night, and were less stressed. The researchers concluded that, “Acupuncture treatment may be of value for some categories of anxious patients with insomnia.”
Another study found that acupuncture improves sleep quality in patients with HIV, among whom sleep disturbance is a common problem. The researchers found that, “Sleep activity and sleep quality significantly improved following 5 weeks of individualized acupuncture…”
Other studies have shown that acupuncture works for people without health problems, too. A study in 1999 found that acupuncture improved sleep quality in normal people with insomnia. Sleep hackers, pay attention!
Another benefit of acupuncture is relief from chronic pain, which is a common contributor to sleeplessness.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:
Difficulty falling asleep
Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
Waking up too early in the morning
Feeling tired upon waking
Types of Insomnia
There are two types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.
Primary insomnia: Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
Secondary insomnia: Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (like alcohol).
Causes of Insomnia
Causes of acute insomnia can include:
Significant life stress (job loss or change, death of a loved one, divorce, moving)
Emotional or physical discomfort
Environmental factors like noise, light, or extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that interfere with sleep
Some medications (for example those used to treat colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma) may interfere with sleep
Interferences in normal sleep schedule (jet lag or switching from a day to night shift, for example)
Causes of chronic insomnia include:
Depression and/or anxiety
Pain or discomfort at night
Symptoms of Insomnia
Symptoms of insomnia can include:
Sleepiness during the day
Problems with concentration or memory
Ten natural way to help to sleep
1. Eat Light and Right at Night
Don’t eat heavy foods and big meals too late. They overload your digestive system, which affects how well you sleep. Have a light evening snack of cereal with milk or crackers and cheese instead.
Tip: Finish eating at least an hour before bed.
2. Set Your Body Clock
You’ll rest better at night. But sleep too early and too late will do harm.
Go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day, even on weekends. This routine will get your brain and body used to being on a healthy snooze-wake schedule. In time, you'll be able to nod off quickly and rest soundly through the night.
Tip: Get out in bright light for 5 to 30 minutes as soon as you get out of bed. Light tells your body to get going! Avoid sleeping after midnight or too early.
3. Choose comfortable posture (especially neck and back) for sleep
Your lower back may not hurt enough to wake you up, but mild pain can disturb the deep, restful stages of sleep. Put a pillow between your legs to align your hips better and stress your low back less.
Blame your pillow if you wake up tired with a stiff neck. It should be just the right size -- not too fat and not too flat -- to support the natural curve of your neck when you're resting on your back. Do you sleep on your side? Line your nose up with the center of your body. Don’t snooze on your stomach. It twists your neck.
Tip: Use good posture before bed, too. Don't crane your neck to watch TV. Tuck a pillow under your knees to ease pain.
4. Lower the Lights
Dim them around your home 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. Lower light levels signal your brain to make melatonin, the hormone that brings on sleep.
Tip: Use a 15-watt bulb if you read in the last hour before bed.
5. Work Out Wisely
Regular exercise helps you sleep better -- as long as you don’t get it in too close to bedtime. A post-workout burst of energy can keep you awake. Aim to finish any vigorous exercise 3 to 4 hours before you head to bed.
Tip: Gentle mind-body exercises, like yoga or tai chi, are great to do just before you hit the sack.
6. Turn Down all stimulant and drinking
Alcohol, tea, Nicotine, caffeine, fiction, certain medication e.g. pain reliever and weight loss pill, certain food e.g. hot spicy and chocolate is a stimulant. Stimulant can keep you from falling asleep and make insomnia worse. Avoid drinking 2-3 hours before bed.
Tip: Many people try several times before they kick the habit. Ask your doctor for help.
7. No animal in Beds
A cat's or a dog's night moves can cut your sleep short. They can also bring allergy triggers like fleas, fur, dander, and pollen into your bed.
Tip: Ask your vet or animal trainer how you can teach your pet to snooze happily in its own bed.
8. Free Your Mind and power down
The soft blue glow from a cell phone, tablet, or digital clock on your bedside table may hurt your sleep.
Put aside any work, touchy discussions, or complicated decisions 2 to 3 hours before bed. It takes time to turn off the "noise" of the day. If you’ve still got a lot on your mind, jot it down and let go for the night. Then, about an hour before you hit the sack, read something calming, meditate, listen to quiet music, or take a warm bath.
Tip: Even 10 minutes of relaxation makes a difference. Turn off TVs, computers, and other blue-light sources an hour before you go to bed. Cover any displays you can't shut off.
9. Use Caution with Sleeping Pills
Some sleep medicines can become habit-forming, and super addictive and they may have side effects. Ideally, pills should be a short-term solution while you make lifestyle changes for better Zzzz's.
10. Know When to See Your sleep specialist
Let her know if your sleeplessness lasts for a month or more. She can check to see if a health condition -- such as acid reflux, arthritis, asthma, or depression -- or a medicine you take is part of the problem.