Most people experience problems with their sleep at some point in their life. However, according to the NHS, over 30% of the UK population currently suffers from insomnia or other sleep disorders. Insomnia is defined as “difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both”, and is linked to an inadequate quality or quantity of sleep. It typically results in functional impairment and low energy, or mood, while awake, with those affected experiencing significantly higher rates of relationship difficulties, poor energy, low mood and depression, amongst other wider health issues.
In 2011, The Charity, Sleep Matters, described poor sleep as “a seriously neglected public health concern”, following its report featuring data from the largest UK survey published. The report highlights that, far from being a minor irritation, sleep disorders expose sufferers to a significantly greater risk of health problems ranging from depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder to immune deficiency and heart disease. The UK Charity, The Mental Health Foundation, has also since published a report of the impact of sleep on health and wellbeing, further raising awareness of the importance of good sleep for overall quality of life.
Treating Insomnia with Acupuncture
Acupuncture uses a natural, gentle approach to help regulate sleep patterns. Increasingly Western medical research highlights how Acupuncture treatment reduces insomnia and anxiety, naturally without resorting to pharmacological or drug intervention, which is shown to have known disproportionate and often detrimental side effects. The research links acupuncture to a significant increase of nocturnal (night-time) endogenous melatonin secretion. Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone in the body and is important in the balance and regulation of the body’s natural circadian rhythms, as well as many other vital biological functions, including sleep.
The Well Body Good Sleep Clinic treats many patients every week who are suffering from insomnia, with excellent results. Treatment is uniquely personalised to your individual health and lifestyle, and includes a detailed Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) assessment including diagnostic pulse reading, tongue observation and gentle abdominal palpation. Other factors including lifestyle triggers, and simple relaxation techniques are also used to help reestablish good quality sleep and energy as quickly as possible. In addition to constitutional acupuncture treatment, during which patients relax for 20-30 mins, the appointment may also help you benefit from gentle auricular techniques, helping extend the ‘active treatment phase’ between each treatment session, using very small magnetic or press on ‘ear seeds’ taped to the ear, at specific active points, similar to those use for quitting smoking, or breaking addictions.
The Research: – how Acupuncture helps promote Sleep:
Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. (link: neuro.psychiatryonline.org)
This report shows how Acupuncture increases the release of Nocturnal Melatonin Secretion and relieves Insomnia and Anxiety. The report concludes that acupuncture treatment may be of value for some categories of patients with anxiety and/or insomnia.
Journal of Advanced Nursing (link: neuro.psychiatryonline.org)
This article highlights the positive effects of Acupuncture on patients with insomnia, and concludes that Acupuncture may be an effective intervention for insomnia.
Acupuncture can improve sleep quality in the elderly – The Journal of Chinese Medicine, February 2015
Brazilian clinicians report that acupuncture is effective for improving sleep quality and psychological distress in elderly patients with sleep problems. Forty-eight community-dwelling elderly patients were randomised to ten sessions of either verum or placebo acupuncture. Acupuncture was found to be highly effective for improving subjective scores of sleep quality depression and stress. However, immune and neuropeptide markers commonly associated with stress, sleep impairment and immunosenescence (the deterioration of the immune system due to ageing) did not show any changes in levels following the intervention. (Acupuncture for sleep quality, BDNF levels and immunosenescence: A randomized controlled study. Neurosci Lett. 2014 Dec 12;587C:35-40).