Acupuncture (and Other Alternative Treatments) for Better Sleep

Nearly 35 percent of adults in the United States report getting less than seven hours of sleep, which puts them in a state of sleep deprivation. Everyone has trouble falling and staying asleep once in a while, but when it starts to interfere with your everyday life, acupuncture and other alternative treatments can improve your sleep quantity and quality.

What Happens to my Body During Sleep Deprivation?

Without sleep, your body doesn’t get the time it needs to restore and rejuvenate itself. Brain cells dampen their activity, slowing down reasoning abilities, decision-making skills, and reaction times. Sleep limits the amount of time spent in slow wave sleep, which leads to inflammation, reduced muscle recovery, and a suppressed immune system.

 

The emotional center of the brain becomes more sensitive to negative thoughts and emotions when sleep deprived. At the same time, the reasoning center of the brain becomes less active. Together, these changes often lead to higher levels of stress, which promotes continued sleep loss.

 

Lack of sleep also causes a change in appetite control altering the amount of hunger hormone and satiety hormone in the body. Even one night of sleep deprivation can lead to overeating and unwanted weight gain.

 

What Causes Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation can come from any number of sources from stress to a medical condition or fluctuating work schedule. Today, in a society that is in constant communication, stress is often at the root of sleeplessness. As sleep deprivation continues, stress levels continue to go up, creating a cycle of prolonged sleep loss.

How Does Acupuncture Help Me Sleep?

Acupuncture has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, which in turn can help improve the quality of your sleep. In a study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry Clinical Neuroscience, participants were chosen based on their reports of anxiety and insomnia. Those participants who received five weeks of acupuncture treatments showed an increase in the amount of melatonin in their body.

 

Melatonin is a sleep hormone that helps your body to fall and stay asleep. In the study, it shortened the time it took to fall asleep and reduced the number of times participants woke during the night. Participants also reported significantly lower levels of anxiety. The change in sleep hormone and anxiety decreased their symptoms of insomnia.

 

What Other Alternative Methods Can Help Improve My Sleep?

The effects of acupuncture can be extended when used along with other alternative methods that have been shown to help reduce stress and sleep deprivation.

 

Mindfulness meditation can help focus the mind on present sensations. This focus allows practitioners to develop the ability to let go of thoughts of the past or present the cause stress. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, one group followed a sleep hygiene education program while the other participated in six weeks of mindfulness meditation training. Those who participated in mindfulness meditation showed significantly less anxiety, stress, and symptoms of insomnia.

 

Yoga has also been shown to reduce the stress and inflammation that contribute to sleep loss. The Journal of Clinical Oncology published a study that examined yoga’s impact on inflammation, mood, and fatigue in breast cancer survivors. Researchers found that consistently practicing yoga reduced inflammation, improved mood, and reduced fatigue.

 

Acupuncture works to put a stop to the stress-sleep deprivation cycle. When used along with other stress-reducing methods, you can get the rest you need to feel your best.