Sleeping problems such as Insomnia in our present modern society is an all too common experience. In most, if not all, of the busiest cities in the world, a huge number of people have an extremely difficult time falling asleep and maintaining sleep. There is a very big chance that you, reader, are one those tens of millions who have current sleeping problems and, if you are, you certainly are not alone. A 2005 study done by the National Sleep Foundation showed that about 57% of adults in the United States suffer from at least one symptom of insomnia for a few nights or more. Women account for 64% of total insomnia cases while men account for 36% of cases.
In order to understand better how insomnia can significantly affect a person’s life, first we need to understand what insomnia really is all about. It is a condition where a person experiences a problem falling asleep and if he/she manages to do so, has a hard time staying asleep. There are two types of insomnia: primary and secondary. An insomnia that is not related to an environmental, psychiatric or medical issue is known as primary insomnia while secondary insomnia is caused by a number of factors including anxiety, depression, mental or pain disorders, hormonal changes, stimulant use, and sleep apnea.
If one finds it hard sleeping and desires a treatment that is natural and doesn’t entail the use of pharmaceuticals, the use of natural therapies is highly recommended for him/her. These therapies may include:
Exercise is highly recommended if you need to spend the extra mental energy you still have that may make it difficult for you to fall asleep. Exercise helps your body expend the stress hormones flowing in your bloodstream leaving you in a more relaxed and healthier state. One good technique to relieve stress is with Progressive Muscle Relaxation. You can perform this activity when you are lying in bed getting ready to fell asleep. The Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique uses deep abdominal breathing. You start on the calf of one leg then gradually advance up the body relaxing and tensing your muscles as you progress. Besides forcing your mind to veer from another topic, this type of exercise can likewise help you experience what real muscle relaxation is all about.
Acupuncture treatment done on a regular basis can help you minimize the levels of cortisol in your body. Acupuncture helps balance your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and can nip in the bud any anxiety and stress that might be starting to affect you. It helps you to better manage your stress and helps you recover from those health issues caused by your insomnia. Besides acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine is not only an effective treatment for insomnia symptoms it can also resolve the root cause of the problem plaguing your body as well.
Your mind, being already overactive as it is, can become hyperactive all the more when you lie awake in your bed. Mindfulness therapy and meditation can help dispel those thoughts that cause your mind to keep on thinking. Relaxing activities such as meditation and yoga that imbibe the characteristics of mindfulness practice can lower the levels of cortisol in your body. This stress hormone is the one responsible for the emotions we know as the “fight or flight” syndrome.
The only person capable of diagnosing sleeping disorders that are under the blanket category of insomnia is a doctor. If you have a hard time falling asleep and/or staying asleep, you should know that this problem can potentially lead to graver issues. The American Cancer Society did a study involving people with about 7 hours of sleep on average. Besides the increased likelihood of mortality, insomnia has been show to increase the risk of serious health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
If you seek a holistic and natural type of treatment for your insomnia, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are very effective tools in resolving your sleeping problem. Seek out a licensed acupuncturist who more or less has experience treating sleeping difficulties such as insomnia. You should know, however, that Chinese medicine takes time to work depending on your constitution and the severity of your condition.
Dr. Vickery is a licensed acupuncturist in Tarzana, CA., and the founder and clinical director of Vickery Health and Wellness.