Zzzzz, that is the sound we hear throughout our clinic everyday. Acupuncture is so effective at inducing sleep, about half of our patients fall asleep during their treatments. People from all over Washington, Chittenden and Lamoille counties travel to Integrative Acupuncture in Montpelier and Williston to receive natural care for their sleep disorder. The relaxation they experience during their treatment lasts and patients report changes to their sleep pattern immediately.
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What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is not a disease, rather it is a symptom of several sleep disorders. There are two types of insomnia, primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is not directly related to any other health problems where secondary insomnia is difficulty sleeping due to another issue such as asthma, pain, arthritis, cancer, depression or due to a side effect of a medication.
Symptoms associated with insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking too early in the morning and feeling tired upon waking. Insomnia is also categorized based on the duration of the symptoms. Acute insomnia is short term and may last for a few nights to several weeks. Chronic insomnia is defined as having symptoms at least three nights per week for one month.
How Is Insomnia Treated With Western Medicine?
Insomnia treatment may include relaxation techniques and teaching good sleep habits, such as these below:
Avoid caffeine late at night. Avoid nicotine late at night. Get regular exercise. Make your room as comfortable as possible. Follow a routine before bedtime. Don’t eat a heavy meal late in the day.
When preventative measures are not enough for insomnia, doctors may prescribe sleeping pills. Behavioral therapy may also be recommended. Trying to diagnose the underlying health issue for chronic insomnia is always a priority.
How Does Acupuncture Treat Insomnia?
Chinese medicine recognizes the proper flow of Qi of the body to be influential in healthy sleep. We look at the underlying issues causing sleep disturbances such as pain or night sweats and work to eliminate these issues. We focus on the Heart organ which in Chinese medicine houses the “shen” or spirit and is responsible for sleep. We also focus on the health of the Kidney and the balance of the yin fluids of the body. Yin is the energy responsible for night time and sleep and if our bodies are deplete in yin energy we experience insomnia, often with night sweats.
Western science has recognized acupuncture’s effect on insomnia and attributes it to the natural release of melatonin and dopamine with acupuncture. Our patients with insomnia often have a deeply relaxing treatment and fall asleep during their sessions. Read a recent blog post with home care tips here.
Yin X, Gou M, Xu J, Dong B, Yin P, Masquelin F, Wu J, Lao L, Xu S. Efficacy and safety of acupuncture treatment on primary insomnia: a randomized controlled trial. Sleep Med. 2017 Sep;37:193-200. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2017.02.012. Epub 2017 Mar 8. PMID: 28899535.