Stress has become an accepted part of modern life. It can stem from everything from a change in work schedule to a new move or medical condition. For most people, it's not about eliminating stress but learning how to manage it in healthy ways.
Acupuncture provides a natural way to reduce stress. It can be used in conjunction with good sleep habits for long-term stress management.
The Stress-Sleep Deprivation Cycle
Stress can hit your body hard, causing everything from headaches and indigestion to high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Sleep deprivation is also a common side effect of chronic stress. Unfortunately, stress and sleep deprivation can form a cyclical relationship, wherein stress causes sleep loss and continued sleep loss keeps your stress levels high.
Lack of sleep causes the emotional center of your brain, the amygdala, to become more sensitive to negative stimuli. As the same time, the section of your mind that applies higher reasoning functions, called the prefrontal cortex, becomes less active. The result – worry, anxiety, and other stressful emotions have more influence over your decisions when you're tired.
Good sleep hygiene helps improve your odds of getting a full night’s rest. You can help yourself fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer by:
Turning Off Electronic Devices: Televisions, smartphones, and laptops can give off a bright blue light that suppresses the release of melatonin, a vital sleep hormone. Turning off your devices at least two to three hours before bed allows you to stay on your regular sleep schedule.
Keeping a Consistent Bedtime and Wake-Up Time: Your body runs on regular 24-hour biological and physiological cycles to control your sleep-wake schedule. By maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, you allow your brain to adjust and release hormones at the right time.
Developing a Bedtime Routine: Bedtime routines helps trigger the release of sleep hormones while giving your mind and body a chance to release tension built up throughout the day. Try to perform your routine at the same time and in the same order every day.
Eating Healthy, Regularly Spaced Meals: A well-balanced diet helps your body function at its best. But, the timing of your eating is also crucial because the body uses the timing of your meals to help determine when you need to fall asleep. Like a consistent sleep schedule, regularly spaced meals help the brain know when to release sleep hormones.
Also, consider your sleeping conditions. A mattress that supports you and your partner along with breathable bedding that doesn’t trap heat and moisture against the skin can help you sleep more comfortably. Try to keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet at night for optimal sleep conditions.
Acupuncture for Less Stress and More Sleep
As an age-old remedy for many humans, acupuncture continues to find a place in the modern world. By applying pressure through tiny needles at specific pressure points on the body, it brings warmth, blood, and healing to certain areas of the body. Studies have been able to show the effectiveness of some common pressure points, including those used for stress. While stress and anxiety go down, acupuncture stimulates the release of melatonin for better longer sleep.
One study found that the standard pressure points used for stress relief reduced to the amount of stress hormone in the body. Another that involved participants from a large urban university found that participants continue to enjoy less stress for up to three months after their last acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture is an excellent way to put a stop to the stress-sleep cycle. When used along with good sleep hygiene, it can set you on the road to getting the high quality sleep you need to function at your best.