Acupuncture and Sleep
Insomnia is defined as having difficulty falling or staying asleep, and it can be chronic, or acute in a stressful situation. Insomnia is considered chronic if it happens for three or more nights a week for three months or longer. Insomnia affects 1 in 3 people, and can be extremely debilitating. A poor night’s sleep can mean a bad day at work, and poor work performance. Being fatigued can also mean not being able to participate in family life the way you want to. Many people with sleep problems go on to develop poor sleep habits, which can continue the cycle over again.
The causes of insomnia can range from stress, anxiety and depression, trauma, pain, allergies, sensitivities to EMF (wifi), to chronic illness. When someone is chronically ill, especially if the illness involves pain or fatigue, then the adrenals can become overworked, causing “adrenal fatigue.” The most common pattern of adrenal fatigue includes being very tired in the morning, and more energetic at night, making it difficult to sleep. Most people with this pattern want to stay up and “do things” because this is when they feel their best. Unfortunately, staying up will only exacerbate the problem, and fuel the adrenal fatigue. Chronic pain can also keep many people awake, and those sufferers are great candidates for acupuncture therapy, as it will help the pain, anxiety and sleep disorder.
At Ananta Health we recommend multiple things to help with insomnia, starting with good sleep hygiene and regular acupuncture sessions until the body’s pattern corrects itself.
Acupuncture is a painless treatment involving the insertion of needles into specific acupuncture points. At the first visit the acupuncturist goes over a thorough history of the patient, including sleep patterns, stress, diet, and other important factors that can affect health. The acupuncture points used are chosen for the patient, and specific to their body’s needs. The patient will retain the needles while relaxing in a dark room, allowing their mind and nervous system to relax. Most people report that they fall asleep, and often come out of the appointment feeling more relaxed than they were before hand. Often the patient is asked to come back for multiple sessions so that the body can be encouraged to heal. Once the proper sleep pattern is attained, then the patient will go to maintenance, usually involving treatment only once a month or as needed, to help keep the nervous system relaxed.
The following are sleep hygiene guidelines to help achieve a restful night’s sleep. There are many aspects that can influence poor sleep. While you work through your program towards wellness, try implementing the following strategies.
- Eat a balanced diet, three meals a day with a rainbow of colours on your plate. Many vitamin deficiencies are linked to disturbing sleep.
- Limit caffeine to only in the morning 1-2 cups a day. Many people take up to eight hours to metabolized caffeine, so even a cup of coffee at lunch time can keep you awake at night. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea and chocolate.
- Don’t eat past 8pm. It takes three hours to digest food, so it’s best to finish eating well before bed time.
- Deal with any stress that came up during the day. If you tend to wake up with anxiety, try journaling or meditate before you go to bed, or see a psychiatrist or counsellor if the stress is extreme.
- Exercise regularly.
- Remove the TV and other electronics from the room.
- The bedroom is for sleeping and intimacy, try to limit other activities in the room.
- Turn your Wi-Fi off at night. Consider a timer so it turns off at night and comes back on in the morning.
- Turn your phone to airplane mode or keep it elsewhere at night.
- Test your bedroom for EMFs. Having high EMFs near the bed (i.e.. A smart meter on the other side of the wall) can disrupt sleep.
- Give yourself an hour before bed with limited stimulation. This includes screen time (TV, computer, phone). Consider reading, journaling, meditating or other calmer activities.
- Declutter the bedroom. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. Remove all books, computers, TVs and anything else that doesn’t belong in the bedroom. Make sure the room is tidy and inviting, if it’s not, it’s only going to add to the discomfort you already have.
- Based in Asian culture, the practice of fengshui can make a huge difference in the bedroom. Be sure that your bed is on a solid wall, with no windows or doors, and make sure the foot of the bed isn’t facing the door. These simple changes can make the world of difference in how you sleep.
- Sleep in total darkness. Get black out blinds and shut the door. Try to make it so you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Light in the bedroom while you try to sleep can disrupt melatonin, which is a hormone that helps you sleep.
- Be aware of what time you are waking up. Waking between 1-3am has to do with your liver, it can be from being toxic, exposure to allergies, diet, hormones, parasites or anger and irritation. Waking at 3-5am is about your lungs and immune system, it can be related to having a cold/cough, asthma, weak immune system, environmental (inhaled) exposure to toxins or allergens, or grief and sorrow.