Getting a good night’s sleep has long been considered a requirement of good health. But for those who suffer from insomnia, sleep can feel like a goal that’s always out of reach. Insomnia is a condition signaled by difficulty falling or staying asleep. It is one of the most common sleep disorders; one in three American adults occasionally has insomnia, while one in ten has chronic (frequently recurring) insomnia.
As you might expect, insomnia leads to poor quality sleep, and its effects are far-reaching. Chronic insomnia can cause diminished energy, making your normal daily tasks an extreme struggle. It can weaken your immune system, leaving you susceptible to colds, the flu, and even heart disease. Furthermore, anxiety caused by poor sleep can affect your overall mental health and fuel the condition itself—worrying about insomnia may cause more insomnia, until you’re caught in a cycle of sleeplessness.
For those who are wary of treating their insomnia with sleep medications (which may be habit-forming or have unwanted side effects) acupuncture can be a valuable non-prescription alternative. Acupuncture redirects the flow of your Qi, or energy, which can become imbalanced due to stress, medications, travel, or other causes. In other words, acupuncture increases the amount of sleep-promoting substances in the brain and stimulates the nervous system and well-being of the body. Unlike prescription sleep medications, which only treat the symptoms of the condition, acupuncture has the potential to treat the symptoms and the cause.
Since there is no single trigger for insomnia, a skilled acupuncturist will create an individualized plan for you. Reviewing possible contributing factors like your sleep patterns, medications, mood, daily habits, and physical health can help your acupuncturist determine how to address your specific insomnia symptoms.
A 2009 study published by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that acupuncture can not only be safely combined with conventional medical treatments for insomnia, but it can also help reduce their side effects and enhance their benefits. Your acupuncturist may also suggest complementary remedies such as:
- Yoga or Meditation: These relaxation practices may help with any anxiety that is affecting your sleep.
- Diet modification: Avoiding spicy foods, caffeine, and other things that may stunt sleep can make a difference. Changing your diet can also help your Qi and overall physical health.
- Aromatherapy: Natural essential oils may have a calming effect, helping you sleep at night.
- Controlling Environmental Stimulants: Ambient light or noise pollution can prevent deep sleep and thus play a role in insomnia. Investing in a sleep mask or white noise machine can help lay the foundation for uninterrupted sleep.
These therapies balance nicely with acupuncture, which is itself focused on balance and peaceful energy. Whether you struggle to rest because of stress and anxiety, or you suffer from waking up during the middle of the night, acupuncture may be the answer to a balanced lifestyle and good night’s sleep. To learn more about how acupuncture can help counteract insomnia, contact Acupuncture Associates.