While many of us find that our quality and quantity of sleep are fine, for many sleep can be a struggle. Getting to sleep, staying asleep and sleeping well throughout the night can be extremely difficult for a large segment of the population. That is why we are always on the hunt for a new way to improve sleep quality and quantity. Here is one extremely old medical process that may help you to sleep better: acupuncture.
As you may know acupuncture involves the penetration of the skin with needles. The focus of acupuncture is to stimulate certain points on the body with the pinpoint targeting of specific acupuncture points with the aim of correcting imbalances in the flow of qi through channels known as meridians. There are many different points across the body that relate to different conditions and issues and an acupuncturist will target certain points depending on what their patient wants or needs.
Recent research has found that acupuncture appears to help improve sleep quality. The study found that acupuncture helped relieve both anxiety and depression in the participants. This in turn suggested that “acupuncture has beneficial effects as a treatment for insomnia”.
The study was conducted by four renowned Israeli institutions: Emek Medical Center, Israel Institute of Technology, Yezreel Academic College, Mazra Mental Health Center. The researchers said of acupuncture that it “is one of the oldest healing practices in the world” and is seen by many as “safe and effective.” While in some scientific fields the efficacy of acupuncture is questioned the researchers’ work was built on prior research that showed acupuncture had a positive influence in the treatment of a number of key areas including chronic pain, depression and a range of sleep disorders.
The subjects of the study suffered from sleep disorders and were treated with acupuncture 2 times a week with a total of 16 acupuncture treatments over the course of the study. Their sleep patterns were monitored using a wrist actigraph, which is a non-invasive means of monitoring the rest and activity cycles in humans. The actigraph helps researchers detect and follow circadian rhythms and sleep patterns.
Unlike other previous studies of acupuncture these tests were conducted by licensed acupuncturists who first focused on which points were the most conducive to the end results of the study. In earlier studies researchers had often ignored the traditional Chinese approach and had simply used a single acupuncture point rather than the complex network that is recommended by Chinese medicine.
Once they had given the patients the acupuncture and obtained the data they then used statistical analysis to assess the information. The patients’ sleep improved dramatically, with a decrease in the longest waking lengths, the total amount of time awake during the night, the total number of times they woke during the night, wake time after sleep onset and even sleep onset latency.
In their findings, the authors of the study noted that the acupuncture helped the patients fall asleep faster and improved their overall sleep.
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