Research that Supports Treating Insomnia Acupuncture

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Both the autonomic nervous system and the hormones have to be balanced in order to commence and maintain sleep. A lot of studies have demonstrated acupuncture’s ability to help promote the restoration of homeostasis and preserve the balance of biological chemicals in the central nervous system.

1. Acupuncture has the ability to enhance the production of melatonin in your body
The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience published an article that investigated the relationship between acupuncture treatments and melatonin. The study saw that in all 18 patients suffering from severe insomnia, there was a meaningful rise in their endogenous melatonin secretion after they were treated with acupuncture for five weeks two times a week. Recordings of muscular and electrical states during the entire sleeping time revealed that the patients had a deep sleep time, experienced an overall longer sleep time, had less instances of waking up during sleep, and took less time to fall asleep, after being given acupuncture treatments. Fatigue, depression, and anxiety also were relieved although alertness in the morning lowered, as well.

2. Acupuncture helps boost blood circulation that in turn leads to a better quality of sleep
A study performed by Hecht and colleagues investigated the relationship between insomnia and blood circulation to the brain. They observed that an inadequate flow of blood to the brain tends to result in low blood sugar levels and spontaneous waking from sleep. One other study conducted by Dr. Omura analyzed the relationship between the dysfunctions of various organs to the effects of blood flow to the brain. When blood pressure of < 30mmHg bilaterally in the head was experienced by the test subjects, most of them suffered from sleep disturbances: primarily, but also on occasion, forgetfulness or recent events, concentration difficulties, extreme sleepiness, and certain degrees of irritability. Even with higher or normal arm blood pressure, the subjects can still experience low blood pressure in their head. Certain studies have demonstrated that stimulation of acupoints GB 20 (located between the sternocleidomastoid and trapezius attachments, just below the occipital bone) and St 36 using electro-acupuncture stimulation can help enhance the flow of blood to the brain.

3. Acupuncture can slow down the effects of aging
The telltale signs of aging including systemic inflammation, edema or fluid retention, erectile dysfunction, insomnia, constipation, irregular and increased heartbeats can appear when the person’s parasympathetic function is weakened. All these factors can in turn result in the common conditions related to aging including, cancer, arteriosclerosis, Alzheimer's Disease, and type-II diabetes among others. The restoration and maintenance of parasympathetic function may slow down the aging process and improve the functions of the internal organs. Acupuncture is able to better the function of the parasympathetic nervous system.

4. Acupuncture can help alleviate pain
A study done by Meltzer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia analyzed the impact of chronic pain on the sleep patterns of adolescents. What he saw was that there was no difference between the healthy control group and the pain group when it comes to bedtime and total sleep time. However, the group with chronic pain exhibited increased daytime sleepiness symptoms, as well as later wake periods in the morning, increased frequency of night walking, and significantly longer sleep onset latency. It has been proven that acupuncture has a potent analgesic effect that can aid individuals suffering from physical pain to improve their quality of sleep. 

5. Acupuncture is able to resolve insomnia by reducing stress hormones in the body 
People who are suffering from chronic stress due to overwork and/or over-thinking tend to have elevated levels of cortisol in their body that causes them to stay alert during the daytime. For people who are under acute stress, or in a state of "fight-or-flight" response, their body produces more norepinephrine and adrenaline (epinephrine). Both these stress hormones affect the quality of sleep profoundly. A team of researchers at the Pennsylvania State University led by Vgontzas analyzed the relationship of the activity of the stress system to chronic insomnia. The team measured the participant’s levels of free growth hormone, norepinephrine, and cortisol in their urine. What they found was that the levels of free cortisol positively correlated with total wake time; the levels of norepinephrine positively correlated with the length of stage 1 sleep but correlated negatively with the length of stage 3 and 4 sleep. The sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal gland branches of the stress system are responsible for the sleep problems in chronic insomnia. When our sleep is light due to stress, we tend to easily and frequently wake up. To help decrease the levels of stress hormones in our body, we can try acupuncture. This type of treatment can help extend our deep sleep time and lessen wake time. It is widely believed that cortisone can affect the way we sleep when we receive a hydrocortisone shot.

Acupuncture can help us maintain proper sleep duration and pattern by balancing our nervous systems and optimizing the metabolism and production of chemicals that dictate how we sleep.

 Key words:  Insomniaacupuncture

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