Acupuncture for Insomnia in Denver
Can’t Sleep? Here’s 10 tips to get you to snooze…
There is nothing worse than not getting the rest you need. Sleep is your body and mind’s opportunity to repair and rejuvenate, and prepare for the day to come. Without it, your energy plummets, your mind becomes unfocused, and your body’s system’s start to fail. If you are among the millions of Americans that suffer from any form of sleep disorder, check out the following tips to help you prepare yourself for a better night’s rest.
1. Block out light: light pollution can come from many sources including glowing lights from computers, t.v., cell phones, and other electronic equipment turned in the ‘off’ mode, glowing electrical sockets, clocks and countless other gadgets. These small amounts of light may seem insignificant, but for those who are sensitive to light, it could be contributing to your poor sleep. Make sure to unplug your electronics, cover or change out glowing electrical sockets, and turn your clocks face down.
2. Turn off the T.V. And the computer 1-2 hours before bed: Television and computers in the bedroom are a problem on several levels. As stated above, they contribute to light pollution. More importantly, the activity of the flickering of the screens is highly stimulating to your brain, and that stimulation lasts far after you have turned off your device, interrupting your sleep by not allowing the brain to relax. Finally, computers are often associated with work, and all things associated with stress and work should be eliminated from your bedroom to allow the mind to disassociate from work/stress to sleep/relax.
3. Limit fluid intake 2-3 hours before bed: Liquids of all types should be eliminated a couple of hours before you plan on going to sleep. Getting up in the middle of the night to urinate can spell the end of sleep for the rest of the night. Many people are just too stimulated after they have to get up, especially if the sleep prior to getting up was not very deep. So plan ahead: stay super hydrated during the morning and throughout the day. Keep a water bottle on your desk, by your kitchen and bath sink, and in your car to remind you to stay hydrated. The more you are hydrating during the day, the less thirsty you will be come nighttime.
4. Snacking should be finished 3 hours before bed: A full stomach and sleep simply do not mix. Digesting food takes a lot of work, especially if it is a heavy meal or carbohydrate loaded snack. If your body is working to digest, how can it be expected to also relax?
To boot, not only is the body working, but it is getting a blood sugar spike (think energy infusion) just at the moment when you need it the least. Make sure to get your last meal in well before you plan on sleeping. If you crave a snack after dinner, eat something on the lighter side, and make sure you get it in 3 hours before you pon lying down to sleep.
Food that contain Tyramine are to be avoided before bed. Tyramine increases the release of the brain stimulant norepinephrine. Here are some specific foods to avoid: bacon, cheese, chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sugar, sausage, spinach, and tomatoes.
5. Take a warm bath for 20 mins before bed with epsom salt to maximize muscle relaxation and ease tension.
6. Discover meditation: according to the Dalai Lama, Buddhist meditation hopes to achieve 2 objectives: cultivation of a compassionate heart and attaining wisdom as insight into the nature of reality. To achieve this, there are 2 key techniques to practice: refinement of your attention and focus, and regulation of emotions.
Furthermore, these techniques involve two forms of practice: one with the focus of stilling the mind, the other with the intent of developing a way to understanding. Depending on what your goals are, there are many different forms to undertake with meditation. You may wish to cultivate a specific way of being, or a mental state such as opening your heart in order to understand compassion. You may wish to allow your mind to explore through the use of vivid imagery in order to cultivate a desired balance.
Whatever your goals and intentions may be, there is a practice out there to suit your needs. So open your mind and explore what techniques are out there to find what works for you. If you are new to meditation, try a short guided meditation that specifically focuses on insomnia. Below are a few links for further reference:
Insomnia guided meditation CD:
iTunes is also a great resource for searching out new guided meditations!
7. Ever heard of Brainwave entrainment? This technique involves synchronizing the 2 hemispheres of the brain so that one is not dominant over the other. Research shows that when the brain is working harmoniously as a whole, our capacity to learn, memorize, boost creativity, induce better sleep, and alter various emotional states (i.e.: stress, anxiety, moodiness, etc) can be increased.
To alter the frequency at which the 2 hemispheres vibrate at, you can apply the use of binaural beats. These are basically sounds that can encourage whole brain cohesiveness so that the brain is vibrating at the same frequency. The brain can then be guided through various brainwave frequencies until deep sleep is achieved.
Normal day to day activities generally cause our brains to operate at the beta level. Entrainment will cause the frequency to shift into a more relaxed alpha state, then into light theta pattern sleep, and finally into the deeper delta sleep pattern. By listening to specific sound frequencies, we can train our brains to be guided down into these patterns of dreamless sleep. Please refer to the references listed below for more info on this fascinating subject:
8. Make acupressure a part of your nightly routine: Apply gentle pressure to the following areas of your body while lying in bed. Massage these points for a few minutes each. These points will sedate the mind and relax the body:
Yintang: Between the brows, there is a small indentation
Si Shen Cong: At the crown of the head, slightly toward the back, and on the midline, locate a slight depression. There are several points in this area, about 2 inches in total diameter.
Liver 3: Between the first and second toes, there is a deep depression that will feel tender to the touch.
Kidney 1: On the ball of the foot, there is a point in the middle and just behind the pad. If the bottom of your foot were divided into thirds, the point would be at the bottom of the first third.
9. Try Chinese Medicine inspired exercises to help you balance the body and get better sleep. Take a look at the following links for instructional how-to’s and photos so that you can learn a series of stretches and exercises to do before bed:
10. Take Chinese herbal medicine: herbs are a fantastic alternative to addictive sleep aids found on the market today. Both prescription meds and over the counter insomnia drugs also have many negative side effects including hangover grogginess, foggy thinking and excess fatigue that will make you pay for those precious few hours of sleep that you got from taking that pill.
Chinese herbs, on the other hand, are not only non habit forming, but also have plenty of positive side effects on your body, making them a very healthy choice. Check out these herbs as a few examples of how they might benefit you:
Suan zao ren (zizyphus): nourishes and calms the heart and the mind to address insomnia characterized by difficulty falling and staying asleep with a high amount of dreams. If you like to drink caffeine, this herb will help to counter effect its’ effect on sleep.
He huan pi (albizia bark): sedating to the nervous system, this herb is great for helping those insomniacs suffering from stress, depression or irritability.
Bai zi ren (platycladus seed): a great herb targeting the heart and mind to allow those who suffer from worry, heart palpitations and anxiety to find sleep. A must if you suffer from night sweats, especially when sweating from the sternum, palms and soles of the feet.
Yuan zhi (Siberian milkwort root): especially beneficial to those who have lots of vivid dreams and light, restless sleep patterns. This herb sedates the nervous system and calms the heart.
P.S: Chinese herbs work best in combination as they work synergistically with one another to promote a better overall formula. Seek out a qualified Chinese Herbal Practitioner or Acupuncturist to prescribe a formula that is customized to suit YOUR body.
Whether you choose to try one, all, or a combination of the above techniques, you are sure to improve your sleep if you simply commit. The key is choose the tips that speak to you, and to stick to your choice for at least few weeks. So open your mind and try something new!
If you or someone you know wants to try acupuncture for insomnia in Denver, have them call my office, or better yet, forward them this article! Free consultations available by reservation.
Wishing you a restful night’s sleep,
Joanne Trujillo L.Ac, MSOM