We live in a fast-paced world that can send your stress levels through the roof. The nature of the stress may be different for each person, but the effects are often the same – sleep loss. But sleep is a necessary biological function; your body has to sleep to survive. Many people find themselves tossing and turning late into the night and getting far less than the seven to eight hours of sleep the average adult needs to function at their best. But you can reduce stress with acupuncture and healthy sleep habits.
No matter the source of your stress, if it is interfering with your ability to sleep, you need to take action because sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on the mind and body. The immune system slows down leaving you susceptible to illness, your ability to control your appetite decreases, and you become more likely to develop conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Sleep deprivation also has a big impact on your stress levels and emotional control. When you’re sleep deprived, the emotional center of your brain, the amygdala, shows amplified reactions to stress. The brain also shows less activity in the prefrontal area that applies logic and reasoning to your behavior. You really do feel more emotional when you’re tired, and you have a harder time regulating your response to your emotions.
Acupuncture can help you relieve stress and improve your overall emotional well being because it affects the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA). HPA contributes to the production of the stress hormone cortisol and is often targeted by anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants. Though scientists don’t understand exactly how acupuncture affects the HPA, it does interrupt signals that produce cortisol.
That’s not the only way that acupuncture can help reduce stress levels. It has been also shown to reduce sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation and stress have a circular relationship wherein one can increase the symptoms of the other.
Many people find that the cycle starts with a stressful event that interrupts their ability to sleep. But, as they lose sleep, their ability to cope with stress goes down. As the amount of sleep continues to be reduced, stress levels continue to rise. Acupuncture can interrupt the cycle by increasing the amount of sleep you get at night, providing a way to gain a handle on stress.
Acupuncture, used along with healthy sleep habits, can help put a stop to this cycle. Start by taking a look at the conditions in your bedroom. Your mattress should support your preferred sleep position. Side sleepers may want a softer mattress than back sleepers and stomach sleepers. Your bedroom should be kept dark and quiet with the temperature at a comfortable 60 to 68 degrees at night.
The behavior and habits that contribute to the quality of your sleep can also be tailored to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep.
- Regular Sleep Schedule: Keeping a regular bedtime and wake up time helps your body sync its circadian rhythms and regulate the release of sleep hormones.
- Bedtime Routine: If stress keeps you awake at night, a bedtime routine might be what you need to release tension before bed. A warm bath, meditation, and yoga can all be part of a good bedtime routine that helps you feel calm and relaxed. Be sure to perform the routine at the same time and in the same order every day.
- Turn Off Screens: The bright blue light from electronics like televisions, laptops, and smartphones can suppress the release of some sleep hormones. Turn devices off at least two to three hours before bed to prevent sleep disruptions.
- Regular Exercise: Exercise not only strengthens your muscles but also wears out your body, so you’re more tired at night.
Improving your sleep habits and incorporating acupuncture can increase the amount of sleep that you get every night and even reduce stress. Contact Dr. Michael Brone today to set up an appointment.