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Insomnia and Acupuncture


Insomnia (ɪnˈsɒmnɪə/) is habitual sleeplessness or an inability to sleep.

Sufferers of Insomnia have a persistent problems falling and staying asleep. Symptoms may include difficulty falling or staying asleep and not feeling well-rested… sleeplessness, wakefulness and restlessness.

Most cases of insomnia are related to poor sleeping habits, depression, anxiety, lack of exercise, chronic illness or certain medication.

At least five things can lead to insomnia:
1. Learning and conditioning factors;
2. Maladaptive thoughts about sleep and perceived lack of self-efficacy in managing insomnia (i.e., cognitive factors);
3. Medical disorders that impair the sleep-wake cycle;
4. Poor sleep habits and other maladaptive behaviors; and
5. Psychological issues (e.g., stress vulnerability and hyperarousal) and psychiatric conditions.

acupuncture-an-effective-treatment-for-insomniaIn Chinese medicine there are a number of types of insomnia, including:

• Sleep onset or difficulty going to sleep
• Middle of the night, or waking and unable to go back to sleep right away
• Terminal or late insomnia, or waking in the very early morning and cannot return to sleep again
• Sleep with vivid and disruptive dreaming
• Inability to sleep, in general.

Each of these particular types of insomnia indicates a unique energy imbalance in Chinese medicine unlike any of the others. No one type of insomnia will ever be treated in exactly the same way during acupuncture, each is related to a particular imbalance.

There are many medical conditions that can lead to insomnia. In some cases, a medical condition itself causes insomnia, while in other cases, symptoms of the condition cause discomfort that can make it difficult for a person to sleep. These conditions are:
• Nasal/sinus allergies
• Gastrointestinal problems such as reflux
• Endocrine problems such as hyperthyroidism
• Arthritis
• Asthma
• Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
• Chronic pain
• Low back pain

Medications for these and those taken for the common cold and nasal allergies, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disease, birth control, asthma, and depression can also cause insomnia.

Psychiatric conditions such as depression, and Anxiety can also cause Insomnia. Most adults have had some trouble sleeping because they feel worried or nervous, but for some it’s a pattern that interferes with sleep on a regular basis.

Anxiety symptoms that can lead to insomnia include:
• Tension
• Getting caught up in thoughts about past events
• Excessive worrying about future events
• Feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities
• A general feeling of being revved up or over stimulated

Acupuncture for Insomnia Evidence

Acupuncture-promotes-sleep-for-insomnia-patientsA preliminary report in 2004 found that in patients with anxiety, acupuncture increased night time Melatonin production and total sleep time. The patients who received acupuncture also fell asleep faster, were less aroused at night, and were less stressed. The researchers concluded that, “Acupuncture treatment may be of value for some categories of anxious patients with insomnia.”
Another study found that acupuncture improves sleep quality in patients with HIV, among whom sleep disturbance is a common problem. The researchers found that, “Sleep activity and sleep quality significantly improved following 5 weeks of individualized acupuncture…”
Other studies have shown that acupuncture works for people without health problems, too. A study in 1999 found that acupuncture improved sleep quality in normal people with insomnia. Sleep hackers, pay attention!
Another benefit of acupuncture is relief from chronic pain, which is a common contributor to sleeplessness.

Insomnia Treatment

Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric and medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors. It’s important to first understand what could be causing your sleep difficulties.

Treatment for insomnia consists of improving sleep habits, behaviour therapy and identifying and treating underlying causes. Sleeping pills may also be used, but should be monitored for side effects.

If you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to review your health and think about whether any underlying medical issues or sleep disorders could be contributing to your sleep problems. In some cases, there are simple steps that can be taken to improve sleep (such as avoiding bright lighting while winding down and trying to limit possible distractions, such as a TV, computer, or pets).

Some home treatments include:
• A Glass of Warm Milk
• Saint John’s Wort
• Lemon Balm
• Magnesium – one of the most vital minerals
• A Lavender Sleep Sachet (Aromatherapy)
• a Cup of Chamomile
• Exercise
• Get More Melatonin
• Establish a Schedule or Ritual, and Keep a Diary
• Ban computer and T.V. from the bedroom

In other cases, it’s important to talk to your Acupuncturist to figure out a course of action.

Acupuncturists regularly treat insomnia and consider the ailment a significant indication of a mind/body energy disturbance. Acupuncturists have been successfully treating insomnia symptoms for centuries and continue to provide relief.

Insomnia symptoms are not cured with one trip to the acupuncturist. Fact is your practitioner will likely advise you to return for subsequent therapies a few times a week over the course of a period of time, depending upon the nature of your insomnia. Many patients report a calmness and relaxation they’ve not experienced in a long time while in an acupuncture session and others report an almost involuntary release of emotions.

You should not simply accept poor sleep as a way of life – call Dr. Lo now – or a sleep specialist for help.