Insomnia! Difficulty sleeping is one of the most common things we hear about. In fact, it’s one of the most common issues that brings people to acupuncture! Want some tips to ease your night and even learn pressure points you can use to ease *your* kind of sleep problems? Check out this great article with advice from acupuncturists from around the country.
Want more? Here’s info & tips from Common Ground Health Clinic in New Orleans by way of The Icarus Project. (The Icarus Project is a major inspiration for the Rad Mads group that meets at the clinic on the last Friday of each month.)
Not sleeping for long periods of time is extremely dangerous to our physical and emotional wellbeing. Lack of sleep can lead to accidents, make you more likely to get sick, and is one of the primary reasons for emotional crisis, mania, or psychosis.
What is good sleep?
Everyone is different in how much sleep they need, and it can change with changing life situations. Most adults need 7-8 hours a night, but this varies by person. Teens need around 9 hours, children up to 3 years 14-16 hours. The best sleep happens when we get to bed early.
What interferes with good sleep?
* Stress, anxiety, and trauma.
* Caffeine, esp. when taken after 2pm. Caffeine is in many products, not just coffee. Many teas such as green and black tea contain caffeine, as do chocolate, energy drinks, and some cold and headache medicines.
* Medication side effects. Read labels carefully.
* Poor nutrition or lack of food. You might also have food allergies that interfere with sleeping.
* Alcohol taken 2hrs before bedtime can prevent the body from reaching the deep stage of sleep necessary for the body to rejuvenate itself.
* Sugar, corn syrup, and sweeteners.
What helps people get to sleep?
Routine is important. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Your body automatically will start to feel tired at this time.
Don’t read or watch tv in bed. Train your body to associate your bed with sleep. If you are having a hard time, get out of bed. Turn a light on and read, or watch a movie for half an hour or so before try- ing to sleep in bed.
Meditation can help to relax. One method is to concentrate on watching your breath rise and fall in your belly, notice when you are distracted by thoughts, and then return to your breath.
Nap. If you missed sleep, take a short nap during the day. Come in for acupuncture.Deep, slow breathing from the belly can help — don’t push or use effort, breathe naturally but deeply.
Conscious breathing. Deep, slow breathing from the belly can help — don’t push or use effort, breathe naturally but deeply.
Process your dreams. Nightmares, sometimes caused by trauma, can prevent deep sleep. Talk about the dream as soon as you awake to reaffirm what is real and what is not. If another person is not available, writing it down may help get it out of your head.
Acupuncture. Acupuncture, including ear treatment, is extremely effective for many people to get to sleep, including people in manic states or with extreme lack of sleep. You can also use ear seeds. Check our Pinterest pages for where to put the seeds. Here’s tips for how to do it yourself: DIY Ear Treatments
Wind down. Simple yoga stretches, a bath, or massage will help to relax your muscles. Visualize progressively releasing tension in each part of your body, starting with your feet all the way to your head: “My toes are relaxing…my feet are relaxing…my ankles are relaxing…”
Herbs. Herbal teas (such as chamomile) can help, as can bananas. Oat straw (we keep this in stock at the clinic!), melatonin, passionfruit extract, and fish oil (also at the clinic) support healthy sleep. An herbalist can guide you on what to try. Schedule an herbal consult for more info or suggestions!
Earplugs. Use earplugs if your environment is loud and distracting. We keep these in stock in our reception are for your use at the clinic or to try at home. If you are used background noise, look for apps for your phone with ambient background noises like fans or rain. Or listen to your favorite acupuncture music.
Make your space sleepy. Keeping your bedroom dark and a comfortable temperature will help you get to sleep.
Exercise. Physically exhausting yourself through exercise will help you get to sleep. Exercising 3-5 times a week will help your body expend excess energy and feel tired. Much more than that though can take it’s toll and have the opposite effect.
Remember: Sleeping too much can be a sign of depression, malnutrition, medication side effect, or physical illness.
Doctors prescribe benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium, and Ativan for sleep. These drugs can help in the short term, but are extremely addictive and in the long term can make sleep problems worse. Use them with great care, or find alternatives.
Let us know what helps you!
Here’s the Common Ground tip sheet so you can read online or download it.