Multiple studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for insomnia. Acupuncture lessens anxiety, stimulates melatonin production, induces sleep onset, and reduces sleep disruption during the night. All of these effects amount to an overall increase in total sleep time.
Acupuncture also activates your parasympathetic system which is the part of your nervous system that encourages your body to rest and digest. In some instances, acupuncture is used as a treatment not for insomnia itself, but for pain from other physical conditions that in turn make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
The first step your acupuncturist will take is to try to assess why this may be happening to you at this time and whether they can help. In some cases you GP will be involved in this assessment process to rule out any serious illness. Lets have a look at the most common causes of insomnia:
Common Causes of Insomnia
Adrenal and thyroid disorders: Adrenal and thyroid glands are responsible for producing hormones that regulate energy levels, metabolic rate and sleep onset and maintenance.
Chronic pain: Chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis are strong related to sleep disorders as the pain can prevent sleep onset and maintenance. On that note – sleep deprivation has been found to increase pain sensitivity, leading to a vicious cycle, hence the importance of addressing causes and symptoms.
Breathing disorders: Sleep apnoea which is the obstruction of airways during sleep may stop the airflow and cause the individual to wake up, often several times during the night. Similarly, inadequate mouth breathing, asthma and snoring may interrupt sleep cycles and prevent restorative sleep.
Poor sleep hygiene: Irregular sleep schedule, stimulating activities (such as strenuous exercise, smart phones, computers and TV exposure, nicotine, alcohol, recreational drugs and caffeine consumption) . Also an uncomfortable sleep environment may affect circadian rhythm and disturb sleep quality.
Protein rich meal too close to bed time: An important raw material for the synthesis of melatonin in the brain is the amino acid tryptophan. High-protein meals can decrease the availability of tryptophan because other amino acids compete for absorption.
Imbalances in gut flora: A very high percentage of neurotransmitters (also responsible for regulating sleep onset and maintenance) is produced by the good gut bacteria. Any conditions affecting the gut flora balance such as candida overgrowth and parasite infections may negatively affect neurotransmitters production, directly impacting sleep patterns.
Anxiety: Insomnia is frequently associated with depression and most anxiety disorders. The causes and effects are bidirectional – insomnia can lead to anxiety and depression, whereas chronic insomnia is often a symptom of depression and anxiety disorders
Therefore treatment for insomnia needs to follow a thorough assessment and treatment plan to eradicate as many causative factors as possible. Acupuncture then works to settle the system back down and allow you to return to a normative sleep pattern. At Restore our acupuncturists regularly care for patients with insomnia and other related issues such as anxiety and gut issues. If you are struggling with insomnia book an appointment with us today.