Millions of American adults struggle to fall and stay asleep. While improving your sleep hygiene can help eliminate some of the barriers to quality sleep, 10-15% of people still experience chronic insomnia.
While being poked by needles may not be what you had in mind when you think about improving your sleep, studies show that acupuncture can decrease anxiety, stimulate melatonin production, induce sleep and reduce sleep disruption.
"By inserting fine needles into the skin at specific points, acupuncture can help regulate the body's physiology, including what may keep you up at night," says Robert Mihalik, a licensed acupuncture therapist at the Sewall Healthy Living Center at Sharp Coronado Hospital.
Manual and electro acupuncture can both be effective in treating insomnia. In addition, auricular (ear) acupuncture — in the form of ear beads or seeds — can also be used for people with insomnia.
According to a recent article in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, insomnia affects about 40% of the adult population in the U.S. While 25-30% of these people experience intermittent sleep disruption, 10-15% report chronic insomnia, which can put the heart at risk.
"Identifying the underlying causes of insomnia can be the key to treatment," says Mihalik, who includes stress and anxiety among common causes of sleeplessness.
Acupuncture can help quiet the mind, increase relaxation and decrease stress to promote sleep. The treatment can also help increase the release of natural melatonin in the body to help improve sleep.
"Sometimes chronic pain can keep you from getting comfortable and drifting off to sleep," adds Mihalik. "Resolving or lessening the pain with acupuncture may help in getting a good night's rest."
Acupuncture can also be effective for those with sleep apnea. By helping a person lose weight, even by as little as 10%, sleep apnea may be reduced. Acupuncture has been shown to help with weight loss and improve energy.
"We all function better after a good night's sleep — our minds work better with increased clarity," says Mihalik. "Even with the curve balls and speed bumps that life brings us, a good night's rest helps us cope and even thrive. If you have sleepless nights, you may want to give acupuncture a try."
To learn more about acupuncture at the Sewall Healthy Living Center at Sharp Coronado, call 619-522-3798 or schedule an appointment online. Acupuncture services are also offered at the Outpatient Pavilion on the Sharp Memorial Hospital campus. To make an appointment, call 858-939-5356.