INSOMNIA, the connection between sleep, stress and health.

  • Do you lay in bed for hours, feeling tired but unable to fall asleep?
  • Do you toss and turn when you sleep at night?
  • Do you have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep?
  • Do you feel lethargic and groggy after you wake up?

Insomnia affects all age groups. Among adults, insomnia affects women more often than men. The incidence tends to increase with age.  Stress is the most common trigger to short-term or acute insomnia. However, if you don’t address short term insomnia it may develop into chronic insomnia

According to a study done by MySleepyFerret , most adults have experienced insomnia or sleeplessness at one time or another in their lives. An estimated 30%-50% of the general population are affected by insomnia, and 10% have chronic insomnia. Noise cancelling headphones for sleeping may be a good solution if you experience problems with your sleep.

By definition, insomnia is “difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or both” and it may be due to inadequate quality or quantity of sleep. Insomnia is not defined by a specific number of hours of sleep in that one gets, since individuals vary widely in their sleep needs and practices.  Sleep, often in our society is pushed to the side when we are trying to push through a project or we have too many things to do, so we decide to give up sleep in order to work and catch up.  When we do try to fall asleep and have problems, many of us reach for over the counter or prescription sleep aids which only put a band-aid on the problem, rather than address the root of the cause.

Insomnia is generally classified into 3 categories: transient, short-term and chronic insomnia. Not every medical society agrees on one definition, here is a general guideline:

Transient Insomnia: if you have symptoms lasting less than one week
Short-Term Insomnia: if you symptoms between one to three weeks
Chronic Insomnia: those that have symptoms longer than three weeks
Insomnia Causes:
Many of the causes of transient and short-term insomnia are similar and they include:

  • Changes in work schedule
  • Jet lag
  • Excessive or unpleasant noise
  • Uncomfortable room temperature (too hot or too cold)
  • Stressful situations in life (exam preparation, loss of a loved one, unemployment, divorce, or separation)
  • Presence of an acute medical or surgical illness or hospitalization
  • Withdrawal from drug, alcohol, sedative, or stimulant medications
  • Insomnia related to high altitude (mountains)

How Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help to improve insomnia?

Acupuncture is effective in treating stress induced, primary insomnia by balancing the endocrine/hormone regulated activities. Chronic stress causes our stress hormones to become hyperactive, this in turn suppresses our feedback hormone. When using acupuncture, the acu-point selected for the insomnia respond to needling and our bodies adjust the feedback system. In this way the endocrine regulating center can be balance and normal sleeping patterns are restored. It has been proven effective as a replacement for CPAP machines.
Secondary insomnia due to medication and some other physiological causes span from circadian rhythm disorders, sleep-wake imbalance, to a variety of medical conditions are more complex to treat. This will take a longer period of time to treat the underlying conditions and causes of the insomnia. Acupuncture combines with Chinese medicine are essential to improve sleeping patterns. The mechanisms are similar as above mentioned balancing the endocrine system. The medication induced insomnia can be complicated as the medications may work on central nerve systems or at neuron transmitter levels. Acupuncture can help in the way to release the side effects from medications other than fix the root condition.
The WHO has published that acupuncture has the therapeutic effect to improve insomnia yet it needs more clinical trials.
You do not have to put up with sleepless nights. Simple changes in your daily habits can resolve insomnia and restore your needed rest.