The Solutions Acupuncture Insomnia Cure: Part 1

Acupuncture & Naturopathic Tricks for a Good Night’s Sleep

insomnia

You’re lying in bed.  It’s late. You’ve got a big day tomorrow and you know you need to get some serious shut-eye to be at your best.  But minutes turn to hours and you’re still wide-eyed into the wee hours of the morning.  Sound familiar?

Studies show that up to 1/4 of all American adults will have some issue with sleeplessness in a given year. 10 to 20% report more severe sleep issues.  We call it Chronic Insomnia when your sleep issues last for more than 4 weeks.

The 5 Habits of Highly Effective Sleepers

In our Phoenix Acupuncture & Naturopathic medicine office, we alwasy ask people about their sleep quality.  As the great Acupuncturist, Dr. Robert Chu says “Sleep time is healing time.”  If people are not sleeping enough, they are not giving their body enought time to heal.  You can think of sleep as kind of like pulling your car into a pit stop; as you rest, your pit-crew of self-healing resources are chan

Despite our iphones, stem-cell research and artistic accomplishments, human beings are still just as plugged in to the cycles of nature as any other species on the planet.  The world was designed with cycles and rythms and we ignore these rythms to our own peril.

The rising and setting of the sun have marked effects on certain hormonal levels in our bodies. For example, Cortisol, a stimulating hormone rises dramatically in the early morning hours, it then plateaus around mid-day and then falls sharply at night.  This provides an early morning burst of energy, sustained energy throughout the day and then a rapid decrease in stimulation at night so we can reach a deep level of sleep.

By adjusting our own schedule to nature’s schedule, wonderous things begin to happen.  After a short adjustment period, most people will find themselves naturally energized as the sun rises, having sustained energy throughout the day and then find themselves automatically drifting into sleep-mode a couple of hours after sunset.

This is a simple solution but its power should not be underestimated.

2. Snack Attack

I don’t know where this whole thing about not eating after a certain hour started.  I think Oprah touted it as a weight loss strategy back in the 80’s.  Regardless, it’s a real dis-service to sleepers everywhere.  Let’s say you have dinner around 6:30 pm and you hit the hay around 10.  And then you wake up at 6:30 am.  If you dont’ eat anything after dinner, that’s roughly 12 hours that you are going without food.  You are essentially fasting for half a day (and half your life if this is your pattern!).

Although occasional fasting can be a great health strategy, this nightly fast is the enemy of rest.  When you’re body gets hungry, all sorts of hormonal and chemical changes occur.  Stimulating chemicals are secreted that actually make you more awake and alert; your body wants you ready to pounce on the next buffalo, or iguana that saunters by so you can get some grub!

Conversely, a small snack of some healthy fat and just a bit of complex carbs gives the signal to your body that the tank is full and you can downshift the hunter reflexes for a while. I suggest a small dessert cup with a few warmed (very important!) sweet potato slices, pecans and walnuts with cinanammon and ginger sprinkled on top (you’re gonna love it!) or a glass or warm coconut milk with a couple of squares of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa content).

3.  The Power of the Dark Side

Having been built to follow the natural rythms of sunrise and sunset, we are extemely sensitive to changes in light within our environment.  Artificial light, particularly the light emitted from computer screens, e-readers and smart phones mimic natural light in such a way that our body becomes confused about whether it is day or night.  Should it be secreting calming, sedating chemicals or stimulating ones?

By adjusting our indoor light exposure to somewhat mimic the day/night cycle, we prime ourselves to fall into an easy, deep sleep. This means turning off the TV and unplugging from the laptop at least an hour-and-a-half before bed.  Indoor lights should be turned down as well to create a soft, dim enviroment.  Yellow lights are a great resource and having a lamp or two with a yellow light bulb that you turn on in the evening as you turn off your regular lights is a great strategy.

For reading in bed, many yellow reading lights are sold commercially and some smart phones have apps for that as well.

 

We’ll continue in part two with some more tricks from our Phoenix Acupuncture & Naturopathic Medicine office for blissful sack-time.

Have you ever had difficult falling or staying asleep?  Tell us about your sleep strategies.

ging your tires, putting gas in your tank, changing a belt or two… Make sense?

That being said, insomnia can be one of the most difficult problems that conventional medical doctors encounter. Fortunately, combining classical Acupuncture & Naturopathic medicine often solves the problem where other therapies have failed.

Here are 5 steps we use in our Phoenix office to help turn insomnia around and help people get the most out of their pillow time:

1.  The Rythm Method

Despite our iphones, stem-cell research and artistic accomplishments, human beings are still just as plugged in to the cycles of nature as any other species on the planet.  The world was designed with cycles and rythms and we ignore these rythms to our own peril.

The rising and setting of the sun have marked effects on certain hormonal levels in our bodies. For example, Cortisol, a stimulating hormone rises dramatically in the early morning hours, it then plateaus around mid-day and then falls sharply at night.  This provides an early morning burst of energy, sustained energy throughout the day and then a rapid decrease in stimulation at night so we can reach a deep level of sleep.

By adjusting our own schedule to nature’s schedule, wonderous things begin to happen.  After a short adjustment period, most people will find themselves naturally energized as the sun rises, having sustained energy throughout the day and then find themselves automatically drifting into sleep-mode a couple of hours after sunset.

This is a simple solution but its power should not be underestimated.

2. Snack Attack

I don’t know where this whole thing about not eating after a certain hour started.  I think Oprah touted it as a weight loss strategy back in the 80’s.  Regardless, it’s a real dis-service to sleepers everywhere.  Let’s say you have dinner around 6:30 pm and you hit the hay around 10.  And then you wake up at 6:30 am.  If you dont’ eat anything after dinner, that’s roughly 12 hours that you are going without food.  You are essentially fasting for half a day (and half your life if this is your pattern!).

Although occasional fasting can be a great health strategy, this nightly fast is the enemy of rest.  When you’re body gets hungry, all sorts of hormonal and chemical changes occur.  Stimulating chemicals are secreted that actually make you more awake and alert; your body wants you ready to pounce on the next buffalo, or iguana that saunters by so you can get some grub!

Conversely, a small snack of some healthy fat and just a bit of complex carbs gives the signal to your body that the tank is full and you can downshift the hunter reflexes for a while. I suggest a small dessert cup with a few warmed (very important!) sweet potato slices, pecans and walnuts with cinanammon and ginger sprinkled on top (you’re gonna love it!) or a glass or warm coconut milk with a couple of squares of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa content).

3.  The Power of the Dark Side

Having been built to follow the natural rythms of sunrise and sunset, we are extemely sensitive to changes in light within our environment.  Artificial light, particularly the light emitted from computer screens, e-readers and smart phones mimic natural light in such a way that our body becomes confused about whether it is day or night.  Should it be secreting calming, sedating chemicals or stimulating ones?

By adjusting our indoor light exposure to somewhat mimic the day/night cycle, we prime ourselves to fall into an easy, deep sleep. This means turning off the TV and unplugging from the laptop at least an hour-and-a-half before bed.  Indoor lights should be turned down as well to create a soft, dim enviroment.  Yellow lights are a great resource and having a lamp or two with a yellow light bulb that you turn on in the evening as you turn off your regular lights is a great strategy.

For reading in bed, many yellow reading lights are sold commercially and some smart phones have apps for that as well.

We’ll continue in part two with some more tricks from our Phoenix Acupuncture & Naturopathic Medicine office for blissful sack-time.

Have you ever had difficult falling or staying asleep?  Tell us about your sleep strategies.

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