Acupuncture as a Treatment For Insomnia
Insomnia is a common condition affecting 30-40% of adults in a given year. Insomnia refers to a condition where one has a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep. The common treatment for insomnia is prescription hypnotic medication. Although the medication will help one fall asleep faster they distort sleep patterns. There are four stages of sleep that we cycle through several times as we sleep. Stage 4 is known as the restorative sleep. If you do not get enough of stage 4 sleep you can wake up the next day still feeling tired. Hypnotics allow us to fall asleep quickly but they decrease the time spent in stage 4 sleep. Also, hypnotic medication can be addictive.
Before tying medication here are some sleep guidelines you should try: Do not drink caffeine within 6 hours of bed time, avoid smoking close to bedtime (better yet avoid smoking all together, see acupuncture and smoking cessation), if you take naps try to do so at the same time every day, go to bed only when you are sleepy, establish a relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a bath or reading before bed, exercise regularly, and try to maintain a regular schedule (eating, taking medication, doing chores etc.)
In addition to practicing the above guidelines for good sleep hygiene complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments have been utilized to help with insomnia. One type of CAM treatment that has shown to help with insomnia is acupuncture. Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that involves the insertion of sterile, thin needles into specific parts of the body. Studies show that acupuncture has been shown to increase the body’s natural production of Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our body’s circadian rhythm (biological clock). Our body’s biological clock plays a vital role in when we go to sleep and when we wake up. Research also shows that acupuncture can improve sleep quality and duration. Below is some additional information regarding acupuncture and insomnia.