We’ve all been there, it’s late, you need to sleep, and you can’t. Your mind and body are keeping you awake – you have insomnia. Insomnia affects about 30% of the population at any given time. Most of us will experience insomnia at some point in our lives. Insomnia is the inability for the brain to go into its “sleep cycle” and keeps us up in its “wake cycle.” Mild cases are usually limited in a few nights a month, but some of us experience many more sleepless nights than we should.
The causes are usually divided into two main categories, physical and mental. Physical causes are usually related to pain in the body, side effects from some types of medication, or other stimulants (caffeine, nicotine, etc.) Mental causes can be from psychologically stressful events at work or from our personal lives, and bad sleep hygiene (playing on your phone or computer before bed).
Fortunately, clinical studies have shown that acupuncture treatments can be effective in easing the symptoms of insomnia, through continued treatments. When compared to use of herbal supplements alone, and sham acupuncture, a significant number reported relief with the use of accredited acupuncture therapy.
Each acupuncture treatment is tailored to your individual needs. It typically involves 10-20 needles at a time for a session that can last from 30 to 60 minutes. Again, this depends on your specific treatment that may include more than treatment just for insomnia. Patients typically go for treatment two times a week for six to 12 weeks. Some people may see results immediately, for others it may take a few weeks.
It is thought that acupuncture helps stimulates the body’s natural ability to increase melatonin production, and removes blockages to your body’s qi. If you are not seeing any noticeable results by the eighth week, your treatment should then be combined with nutrient or herbal supplements, in additional to good sleep hygiene (see below).
Acupuncture can be part of an effective treatment for insomnia. I recommend you come in for a consultation to discuss a rounded approach to your sleep needs.
What you can do to improve treatment
Good Sleep Hygiene:
- Plan to sleep at around the same time every day. Your body needs this routine to establish its sleep cycle.
- Your bed and bedroom should be a place for sleep. Keep work, games, TV, and computer activities out of your bed when possible.
- Limit the use of TV, computer, and cell phones at least 30 minutes before bed.
- Avoid stimulants before bed like caffeine, nicotine, and vitamins.
- While alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it tends to disrupt natural sleep patterns as your body digests.
- Avoid foods that could disrupt your sleep too close to bed (heavy foods, citrus, spicy foods, carbonated drinks, excess water).
- For those who are indoors a lot, be sure to be exposed to natural sun light and darkness.
- A cool bedroom also helps induce sleep.
- If possible, try and resolve any mental complications that could keep you up before you go to bed.
Additional Herbal Supplements:
- California Poppy
- Valerian Root
- Lemon Balm
- Passion Flower
- St. John’s Wart
- Kava Kava