Insomnia: Finding Sleep Through Acupuncture and Naturopathic MedicineSleeplessness can be a draining condition that some people struggle with on a regular basis while others are challenged by in small doses. Symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep at night, rising too early in the morning and/or frequently waking throughout the night. It can be caused by everything from stress, pregnancy, medications and diet to hormonal change, seasons, age, employment schedule and travel. Either way, it is frustrating and can have serious ramifications if ignored or band-aided with conventional drug therapy. Interestingly, below are a few insomnia statistics compiled from The National Sleep Foundation, Better Sleep Council, Gallup Polls, Institute of Medicine, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the US Surgeon General’s Office:

  • People sleep 20% less today than they did 100 years ago.
  • Women have twice the chance of developing insomnia than men.
  • Genes make up approximately 35% of sufferers.
  • Of those struggling with depression, approximately 90% are afflicted with insomnia.
  • If you are sleep deprived, there is a 27% chance you will become overweight.
  • Over 100,000 vehicle accidents occur each year due to sleep deprivation.

In addition, insomnia has a negative impact on our economic system as well. Many businesses foot health care costs and loss of productivity due to sleep deprived workers. It is a vicious cycle that each year seems to be getting worse. On the other hand, it also perpetuates another cycle that enhances our economic system. It is the profit sector of large pharmaceutical companies. In fact, reported in the New York Times (3/12/12), “Americans filled some 60 million prescriptions for sleeping pills last year, up from 47 million in 2006, according to IMS Health, a health care services company.” The estimated profit from sleeping aids is now, approximately two billion dollars per year and rising.

Finding Your Natural Sleep Cure

With so many statistics looming over our heads many people wonder if there is something that will work just as well as conventional medicine but yet not cause an unwanted dependence or possible physical harm?

Re-adjusting your system’s circadian rhythm can be attained through acupuncture and naturopathic medicine in a way that will not require continued pharmaceutical intervention. It is a way to allow your body to embrace the energy manipulation needed, on deeper levels rather than a surfaced, temporary approach.

Acupuncture: Centuries of Sleep

A 2004 study in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences reported that “The acupuncture treatment used in this study improved several polysomnographic parameters of sleep architecture. Among the sleep continuity variables, sleep onset latency and the arousal index dropped significantly reflecting improvements in both sleep initiation and maintenance. The total sleep time and sleep efficiency similarly increased.” This report gives a general idea of how acupuncture has been successful in one of many facets of its 5000+ year old practice. Depending on your specific symptoms, a combination of acupuncture points can be implemented for relief and sometimes even a cure for insomnia. These points may include:

  • Pericardium PC6 – Called Neiguan, this point is located just above the wrist on the inside arm. It calms Shen, which Classical Chinese Medicine considers the “Root of the Spirit” embodying emotion, thought and consciousness often seen in the eyes. Calming Shen can bring peace, serenity and slumber.
  • Du Vessel (a/k/a Governing Vessel) DU24 – The Chinese name for this vessel is Shenting which translated means Spirit Courtyard. A popular insomnia point, DU24 is found on the head above the midpoint of the anterior (front) hairline. It dispels wind, releases the nasal passages and calms Shen.
  • Liver LV2 – Liver 2 is Xinjiang or Moving Between. At the base of the front web between the large and adjacent toes it maintains liver qi, dissipates interior wind, expels heat and calms excess liver yang. As the liver is tuned, stuck qi once again begins ‘moving between’ therefore quelling the looping or repeating energy of insomnia.

What Are You Eating?

A large percentage of insomnia sufferers unnecessarily struggle due to their diet. It may be as innocent as eating late night meals/snacks or unknowingly consuming caffeinated foods (such as chocolate). Alcohol for instance has been long considered a sleep inducer however it only produces a light, first level sleep and robs the body of deeper, needed rest.

There are many foods you can introduce or avoid to take control of your insomnia. It may help slightly or could be more effective, regardless take a look at what may work for you:

  • Eat Tryptophan – This well known amino acid has long been associated with turning serotonin (a feel good brain neurotransmitter) into melatonin, the naturally occurring neurohormone that assists in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Some foods that contain tryptophan are: seaweed, soy protein, nuts and seeds, spinach, bananas, honey and eggs.
  • Avoid Fats – Foods high in fat such as greasy meats and cheeses have not only been shown to increase weight but puts the body through many hours of rigorous digestion which often encroaches on the sleep cycle, disallowing the body to rest.
  • Eat Cherries – Research shows that cherries release melatonin and regardless of their fructose sugar content, they break down easily during digestion.
  • Avoid Bacon – Maybe it is why it is such a breakfast staple as bacon contains tyramine an amino acid derivative which assists in releasing the brain stimulant norepinephrine.

Other Common Remedies for Insomnia

There are several things you can do to alleviate your insomnia challenge. Some are simple fixes and others may require more discipline. For instance, light, sound and temperature play a major role in determining a good night’s sleep. Therefore, making sure your sleeping area is able to be darkened, silent and kept at a comfortable temperature is essential. Exercise is another helpful choice for insomnia. According to a small study conducted by Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Medicine, “Regular aerobic exercise improves the quality of sleep, mood and vitality.” In addition there are herbs such as valerian root, essential oils such as lavender and deep meditation techniques that can also be implemented to assist in healing this condition.

At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you.  In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health.  To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or click here to schedule an online appointment.

*Please CLICK HERE to see a current list of In-Network Insurance Companies for Acupuncture that we participate with as well as insurance companies that commonly have Out-of-Network benefits. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

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