Article by guest writer Amy Highland, sleep expert at sleephelp.org
In today’s fast-paced world, stress management is a must. With a two-fold approach using acupuncture and improved sleep habits, you can gain control over stress, which allows you to go through your daily life with a clear mind and healthy body.
Sleep and stress have a cyclical relationship that can be difficult to break. Stress can lead to sleeplessness, but sleeplessness can also increase your stress. Finding methods that address both problems can often be more beneficial than those that only focus on one or the other. Acupuncture has been shown to be able to help with both.
Acupuncture has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Today, we have a better understanding of how and what it can do for the mind and body. A study published in Neuroscience Letters explored acupuncture’s relationship to sleep quality, stress, and the immune system. After evaluating the sleep patterns, stress and depression levels of study participants, half of the participants received ten sessions of acupuncture. These participants showed improved sleep quality as well as lower stress levels and fewer depressive symptoms.
A research review published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice explored acupuncture’s effect on anxiety, which is a big contributor to stress. Researchers started with 1,135 papers related to anxiety but focused on 13, in particular, that revolved around acupuncture. It was concluded that consistent acupuncture or electroacupuncture treatments can help reduce anxiety with few detrimental side effects.
Acupuncture’s ability to reduce stress and anxiety helps put a stopper in the stress-sleep deprivation cycle. While the effects of acupuncture can last for weeks or months, healthy sleep habits can prolong the benefits and help manage stress to prevent the cycle from starting again.
Healthy sleep starts on a mattress that supports your preferred sleep position – back, stomach, or side. Lumps or valleys in the mattress can not only cause aches and pains in the morning but could keep you awake at night.
Many of your habits during the day can come back to influence your sleep-wake cycle. For example, drinking caffeine and other stimulants within four hours of bedtime can keep you wide-awake. Watching television or looking through social media on a smartphone can expose you to bright blue light that suppresses melatonin, a sleep hormone. You can try avoiding stimulants within four hours of bed and turning off screens at least two to three hours before your bedtime to prevent sleep disruptions.
You can further help your body by keeping a consistent sleep-wake schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, even on weekends. As your body acclimates to your schedule, it will automatically start the release of sleep hormones.
The combination of acupuncture and healthy sleep habits can give you the edge over your stress. Together, they give you a way to put your best foot forward on a daily basis.