Today, 35 percent of adults in the United States report getting less than seven hours of sleep. A number of different factors can contribute to sleeplessness. Everything from the high use of electronic devices to high-stress levels associated with work or caring for aging parents can interfere with your ability to get a full seven to eight hours of sleep. Unfortunately, anytime you get less than seven hours, you enter a state of sleep deprivation.
Adequate sleep is necessary for proper physical, mental, and emotional health. If you’re looking for a way to improve the quality and\or quantity of your sleep, acupuncture might be the natural alternative for you.
For many people, stress and anxiety keep them awake long into the night. In a study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry Clinical Neuroscience, 18 adults who reported anxiety and insomnia were subjected to a five-week acupuncture treatment. Participants showed an increase in the amount of melatonin released into the body. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that triggers the onset of sleep and helps the body remain asleep all night. Participants also reported a significant reduction in anxiety and stress, which reduced the time it took them to fall asleep.
Acupuncture can also enhance the effects of other natural sleep aids. When used in conjunction with herbal sleep remedies, acupuncture increases the number of hours slept and reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
Why sleep so important? Besides the fact that it’s a biological necessity, sleep affects most of your body’s major functions. For example, neurons in the brain slow down the speed at which they send signals when you’re sleep deprived. That reduces and slows down decision-making skills, reasoning abilities, and reaction times. Appetite and metabolism regulation rely on sleep to moderate the release of hunger and satiety hormones. During sleep deprivation, hunger hormones are released in higher amounts and satiety hormones are released in lower amounts, leaving you hungrier and more likely to overeat. Chronic sleep deprivation contributes to illnesses and conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
While acupuncture treatments can be a great way to get you on your way to better sleep, you can also work to create a healthy sleep environment and develop good sleep habits. Your bedroom can have a big impact on your ability to fall and stay asleep. A good night’s rest starts on an appropriate mattress for your weight, height, and preferred sleep position. The room should be kept cool, dark, and quiet to promote the onset of sleep. That may mean you need blackout curtains or heavy drapes to block out light pollution and a white noise machine to muffle outside sounds.
You can also consider any habits or behaviors that can be getting in the way of high-quality sleep. Stimulants like caffeine taken within four hours of your bedtime block the release of melatonin. If you switch to water early in the afternoon, you can prevent a delay in the onset of your sleep. Electronic devices can also interfere with your sleep cycle. The bright blue light given off by many televisions, laptops, and smartphones suppresses melatonin, delaying the onset of sleep. Turning off your screens two to three hours before bed gives your body a chance to stay on track for a regular sleep schedule.
Jackie Kepler is a MattressReviews.net sleep professional. She enjoys sleeping with cats, but sleeps on a king size bed because she needs her space, too.