Acupuncture for Insomnia
Visiting an acupuncture clinic to have needles inserted under your skin doesn’t sound like a good way to get a good night’s sleep; however, first impressions can be deceiving. Like most traditional Asian treatments, acupuncture not only focuses on treating the body but also the mind. It is one of the most well-known therapies for restoring proper balance to the mind and body.
Sleeping disorders, specifically insomnia, is the hyper arousal (fight and flight) of the nervous system and this is why acupuncture is effective in treating the condition.
What Is Insomnia
Insomnia is one of many sleeping disorders characterized by the inability to fall or stay asleep for an appropriate amount of time. The two main types are primary and secondary insomnia. Primary insomnia occurs as a result of sleeping problems that are not related to other health issues, while secondary insomnia is a result of existing health conditions, such as: cancer, asthma, heartburn, arthritis and depression. Substance abuse, excruciating pain and prescription drugs can also lead to secondary insomnia.
Seeking assistance from a trained acupuncture professional not only helps insomniacs to gradually resume a regular sleep pattern, but it will also limit mood swings and improve your ability to concentrate and combat fatigue.
How Acupuncture Helps to Combat Insomnia
Acupuncture helps to improve insomnia in two main ways. Firstly, it helps to regulate human physiology which is grounded on how body organs, muscles, and cells interact and work together to accomplish a specific task. Based on traditional Chinese teachings, one common cause for insomnia is an imbalance of energy in the body which prevents it from relaxing and cooling down as it should. When the body is sleep deprived it becomes agitated and energy cannot flow freely – much like when you’re hot and can’t seem to cool down.
Secondly, treatment at an acupuncture clinic can help to regulate the body’s Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS controls body functions like digestion, breathing and the heartbeat. It’s further subdivided into two systems known as the parasympathetic and the sympathetic system. Both systems regulate the same bodily functions, however the effect they have on each function varies.
The sympathetic system is responsible for preparing the body for extreme physical actions hence the name fight-or-flight response. Resting becomes difficult when the sympathetic system is activated due to an increase in the heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and the cortisol and adrenaline levels in the body.
The parasympathetic system as an opposite effect on the body allowing it to relax by decelerating high energy functions and is often referred to as the ‘rest and digest’ response. For treating insomnia, as acupuncture specialist, the aim is to get the body into parasympathetic mode faster.
One visit to an acupuncture clinic will not make all your symptoms of insomnia disappear. The acupuncturists will likely encourage you to visit the clinic frequently over a specific time frame depending on the severity of your insomnia. Most people indicate that they feel more relaxed and calmer after their first session with a skilled acupuncturist. Your medical or naturopathic medicine doctor should be able to recommend you to reputable acupuncturists who can help you.