How Acupuncture Can Help Relieve the Symptoms of Insomnia


The effects of insomnia can reach into all aspects of your life, both personal and professional. Though everyone deals with sleeplessness on occasion, when the symptoms become chronic, you might need help to get the rest you need. Acupuncture is a natural way to treat insomnia, dealing with two different causes of sleeplessness. When used along with good sleep habits, you can reduce insomnia long-term.

You probably recognize the symptoms of insomnia:

  • delayed sleep onset

  • frequent waking during the night

  • excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue

  • mood changes, particularly irritability and anxiety

  • trouble with concentration and paying attention

While a day or two of insomnia may be annoying, it usually doesn’t have any long-term effects once you get back to your regular sleep schedule. However, for those who suffer from the symptoms day after day, it can put a strain on personal relationships and limit your performance at work.

The first way acupuncture can help reduce insomnia is by addressing stress and anxiety. Sleep deprivation and stress create a cycle wherein one feeds on the other. When you don’t get enough sleep, your stress levels go up. At the same time, high-stress levels interfere with your ability to sleep.

Acupuncture works by putting tiny needles in the specific acupoints to treat everything from digestive issues to arthritis. When the correct acupoints are targeted, acupuncture can have a relaxation effect that reduces stress. In a study published in Endocrinology, researchers targeted the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis with acupuncture and found that it could potentially reduce the number of stress hormones released into the body.

Acupuncture can affect the release of sleep hormones. In a study conducted among anxious adults, a five-week acupuncture treatment caused an increase in the nighttime release of melatonin, a hormone that controls falling asleep and waking up. Participants fell asleep faster, woke up less often during the night, and increased their total sleep time.

Acupuncture works as a natural way to put a stop to sleeplessness. While its effects can last weeks or even months after treatments have stopped, developing healthy sleep habits can prolong help keep stress down and prolong the effects of acupuncture. Healthy sleep starts on a comfortable mattress that’s designed to support your preferred sleep style, height, and weight. After making sure you’ve got good sleeping conditions, you can work on habits that support healthy sleep like:

  • A Consistent Sleep Schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Your body times your sleep-wake schedule based on 24-hour biological and physiological cycles called circadian rhythms. Consistency helps your body follow and support these natural rhythms.

  • A Relaxing Bedtime Routine: A bedtime routine helps relieve stress before bed and signals your brain to release sleep hormones. Try to do your routine in the same order at the same time every day.

  • Avoid Bright Screens Before Bed: Some electronics give off a bright blue light that suppresses sleep hormones. Turn off your screens at least two to three hours before to prevent a delay in your sleep onset.

Acupuncture works as a way to relieve stress and give your body a chance to get your sleep cycle back on track. When used along with healthy sleep habits, you create a pattern for long-term physical, mental, and emotional health.

Green Tea for Your Health

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Green tea has experienced something of a health food renaissance in the US over the last decade. But did you know that in addition to being delicious, green tea is actually medicinal? In Mandarin green tea is known as lu cha and has a place in the herbal materia medica. There are many varietals of this almost ubiquitous drink, but it is typically used for headaches, itchy eyes, stuffy sinuses, sweating out a cold, and settling the stomach.

We've all seen the Celestial Seasonings and Lipton tea bags floating around in the back of the cupboard, but if you want to get the most flavor and strongest medicinal action you'll want to pick up some loose leaf tea. Tea shops abound - my favorite are often nestled into strip malls next to Asian markets, but Teavanna (malls everywhere), the Perennial Tea Room (Pike Place Market), Baicha (Edmonds), and apothecary versions like The Herbalist and Dandelion Botanicals have made high quality tea very accessible. If you're not sure where to start, I always suggest Gunpowder for a pure green tea flavor, or Sencha for a brighter, grassier taste. 

Preparation is key. This isn't a boil and dump situation. Ideal green tea temperatures range from 160-185 degrees (remember, water boils at 212). If you don't have a thermometer let your kettle boil and rest for 10-15 minutes. And steep for no more than 2 minutes. Save those leaves for second, third, and sometimes fourth and fifth steepings and watch the flavors evolve. And if you don't want the caffeine dump that first steep after about 45 seconds and you'll have a stimulant-free medicinal beverage! 

If you'd like to find out more about green tea or Chinese Medicine in general visit, maybe we'll discuss it over a cup of tea.

Jesus Wants You To Use Chinese Medicine

The Three Wise Men were said to have brought gifts for the baby Jesus. Turns out the translators might have gotten that one wrong. The Magi were medicine men who learned in China, and the gifts were actually medicine and were intended for Mary, not Jesus. No, no, your Christmas isn't a lie, its just steeped in a rich tradition of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. 

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Tongue Diagnosis in TCM

Yes, we look at your tongue. It wasn't that long ago that your grandparents were also looking at their tongues to determine their current state of health. But rather than just getting a general feeling for how it looks, TCM practitioners have specific qualities they are looking for.

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When you come to the office ask to see a real diagnostic book. You'll be surprised at how completely different tongues can look! (not always for the weak of stomach)