Sleep Better with Acupuncture and Healthy Sleep Habits
Stress and sleep deprivation have become far more common in modern society than they once were. In Washington state, nearly one-third of adults report getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep. Together, stress and sleep deprivation form a continuing cycle that can be hard to break. But, with the help of acupuncture and healthy sleep habits, you can reduce stress and anxiety to get the sleep you need.
End Stress-Sleep Deprivation Cycle
Stress and sleep deprivation are like the chicken and the egg; it can be hard to decide which one came first. Stress can lead to sleeplessness but the changes in the brain that take place during sleep deprivation also increase stress.
The amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions, becomes more active and sensitive to negative stimuli during sleep deprivation. At the same time, the prefrontal cortex, which applies higher reasoning functions to your emotions becomes less active. Overall, you become more susceptible to the thoughts and feelings that cause stress and anxiety. Adequate sleep restores emotional balance but it’s hard to get when stress takes over.
Use Acupuncture to Reduce Stress and Improve Sleep Quality
Acupuncture has been used for hundreds of years in traditional Chinese medicine. As it has become more accepted in the Western world, researchers have begun to explore how it works to treat everything from sports injuries to anxiety.
A study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences explored the connection between acupuncture, anxiety, and the sleep hormone melatonin. After undergoing acupuncture treatments for five weeks, participants showed an increase in the night time the release of melatonin. This helped participants fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake less often during the night. After acupuncture, participants also scored lower on an anxiety scale.
Acupuncture has also been shown to improve sleep quality. Many times, stress and anxiety cause restlessness and frequent waking. The relaxant effects of acupuncture treatments can help reduce the psychological symptoms that interfere with sleep. Acupuncture has been shown to improve sleep quality in populations that traditionally struggle to get enough rest such as the elderly. The benefits of acupuncture can continue for weeks or months after treatments have stopped.
Develop Healthy Sleep Habits
Acupuncture can help put a stop to the stress-sleep deprivation cycle, but to further improve the quality of your sleep, you’ll need to develop healthy sleep habits and environment. The environment in your bedroom can make a big difference in your ability to sleep. A mattress that’s not only supportive of your preferred sleep position but also fits your height and weight can help your body relax at night and prevent wakefulness. Other ways you can support good sleep include:
Keeping Your Bedroom Dark: Light plays an important role in the timing of your sleep-wake cycle. Light pollution and light from electronic devices can all interfere with your sleep. Blackout curtains or heavy drapes can keep street light out and try to keep electronics out of the bedroom or covered to reduce light.
Keeping Consistent Sleep Schedule: A consistent sleep schedule, which means a regular bedtime and wake-up time, helps your body follow it’s the natural biological and physiological cycles that control hormone release.
Developing a Calming Bedtime Routine: A bedtime routine helps your mind and body release tension before bed. It can also help signal the release of sleep hormones. Meditation, reading a book, or a warm bath are all good ways to prepare yourself for sleep.