Acupuncture has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to regulate sleep, increase cerebral blood flow and reduce activity of the nervous system helping to reduce stress, pain sensitivity as well as promoting relaxation.
Insomnia is difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning. This happens despite having enough opportunity to sleep Insomnia can be very distressing, lack of sleep drains your energy, you become tired and depleted. Anxiety and worry about not sleeping, will often lead to more sleepless nights. You want to get better, but you feel stuck and just don’t feel that you have the energy to do so. This is a cycle of events that can occur with symptoms of insomnia. A common cause of sleeping difficulties is stress and worry. People who are affected by depression, illness or other issues such as relationship problems or difficulties at work or in family life are likely to experience difficulty sleeping well.
Symptoms of insomnia
- Sleep-onset insomnia (difficulty in falling asleep)
- Waking in the night or early morning
- Tiredness, not feeling refreshed after sleep
- Poor concentration
- General inability to cope with life
Patterns of insomnia are varied some people may have no problem falling asleep but wake in the early hours and cannot get back to sleep. Many people have problems sleeping at some point in their life, and it is thought that a third of people in the UK have bouts of insomnia. Insomnia appears to be more common in women and more likely to occur with age. The most common problem in young people with insomnia is difficulty falling asleep (sleep-onset insomnia).
Acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia
Acupuncture by regulating flow of energy within the body has the ability to reduce anxiety, which is often a catalyst for insomnia.
Acupuncture has the ability to restore the natural balance of hormones and chemicals in the brain which allow the mind to switch off and obtain deep refreshing sleep.
Acupuncture is holistic in its approach to illness and treats the person, not the precise condition. All the signs and symptoms are examined closely in order to form a diagnosis and treatment plan unique to each individual, with the aim of bringing the immune system back into balance, reducing inflammation, alleviating discomfort and improving energy and vitality.
“In practice I have found that invariably sleep and the quality of sleep will improve with treatment even when the treatment is not solely focused on the insomnia. This is due to the fact that, when the whole of the body -mind continuum regains equilibrium the resulting functions of the body will re-regulate themselves automatically”
As insomnia is often a result of stress and over thinking. Often people do not even notice just how much they are thinking or worrying about things and situations and it is this continual activity in the brain which contributes to symptoms of insomnia. Insomnia is not in itself a disease or illness, but a symptom of imbalance within the body and mind. When you are worried and anxious then you will not sleep well. If adrenal response is over stimulated by shock or concern then you will not sleep well. When the habit of bad sleep has been ingrained for many years it may take longer sessions of acupuncture for healthy sleep pattern to return.
Sub-conscious anxiety has a disturbing effect on the mind, you may try to consciously willing yourself to sleep, but another section of your mind is blocking this with a fear or anxiety or agitation. A common and classical situation is when a nervous client has an important appointment the next day and that they know they must be bright and fresh in the morning. They will not sleep a wink. They arrive at the appointment the next morning tired and exhausted from worry, mainly about not sleeping!
Maintaining coherence and inner balance can be supported by changes in lifestyle or by adopting positive means of support such as meditation.