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Acupuncture for Sleep Deprivation Relief
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM

You don't sleep much at night, but that's normal for many people, especially those who have busy lives filled with tasks and to-do's, right? Sleep deprivation may not seem to be a cause for alarm, but the consequences of this condition can be very real. Snoozing less at night can cause daytime drowsiness, diminished cognitive functions, a drop in immunity, and may potentially lead to other medical conditions. It can be an annoyance, at best; or, it can result in serious outcomes, at worse. Every year thousands of motor vehicle accidents occur because a driver has fallen asleep at the wheel. In fact, studies show that sleep deprivation can reduce motor skills and decision-making much the same way alcohol can.

The symptoms of sleep deprivation happen for many reasons. For some, it comes about due to outside circumstances. This may include working long late night shifts, having to endure a noisy nighttime environment, or being a new mother who has to stay awake to care for their newborn. Other times, there may be pre-existing medical conditions that interfere with sleep. Insomnia and sleep apnea are two big culprits that fall in this category.

The good news is that acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help in most of these cases. Located on the back of the head, near the earlobes, is an acupuncture point that specifically addresses sleep issues. This point is called An Mian and translates as Peaceful Sleep. The name describes it all. When this point is utilized by your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, it serves to induce a restorative, peaceful sleep. Additionally, this point has the ability to relieve headaches and soothe an anxious mind. Its versatility allows it to be part of an acupuncture treatment for many sufferers of sleep deprivation.

A mother who lacks sleep because she must attend to her infant, may find it impossible to get a full night's rest. While acupuncture is not a substitute for a restorative sleep, it can provide relief for mom's anxiety, heart palpitations and headaches. By selecting points that will calm the mind and relieve pain, including An Mian, the little bit of sleep mom is able to get may be of a better quality, and her ability to relax while awake may increase.

Jet lag is another instance when external conditions interfere with sleep. Long journeys on overnight buses or international flights can prove problematic to the sleep and wake cycles. Whether sleep deprivation is due to physical discomfort or nervousness, acupuncture can once again come to the rescue. Before traveling, consider an appointment with your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. There are many acupuncture points that can help one cope with upcoming travel plans or any other event that may involve physical and emotional stress.

One example of such a point is called Shen Men and is located on the outer ear. It is also known as Heavenly Gate, because it permits 'heavenly' healing energy to flow through a patient's body. The idea is that with the influx of heavenly energy, a person mentally and emotionally enters a state of paradise, where stress and physical discomfort are nonexistent.

It is vitally important to refresh every night with a good, solid sleep. Not doing so may increase the risk of diabetes, hypertension, obesity and other medical conditions.

If you believe you suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation, contact a practitioner to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you!

About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.