Let’s all just look at that sweetpuppyface for juuuust a minute…awwwww.
Is sleep even necessary? If so, why? It’s hard to pin down exactly why we need sleep, just like it’s hard to pin down the specifics of why acupuncture works to help it.
Before I start telling you the statistics regarding insomnia and acupuncture (SPOILER ALERT: it works!!!) I want to drive home the detrimental effects that too little sleep can have on the body. Sure, when you don’t get a great night’s sleep, you’re less focused, more irritable, have less retention of details, you look like crap (let’s not mince words, right?)…but these are just the short-term effects. Having insomnia long term is associated with heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as lowered immunity and depression.
Look below at a few of the problems that can be associated with lack of sleep once it becomes less occasional and more chronic:
Heart and Circulatory Issues: Just ONE night of bad sleep can elevate the heart rate in individuals with preexisting hypertension. It is easy to see how insomnia could exacerbate such conditions to the point of stroke or cardiovascular issues.
Obesity: Studies have shown that people getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night in the long term have higher BMI. Why is this? When you get less sleep than you need, your body reacts by making more cortisol, which holds on to fat. I love referencing our brain’s ability to react to stress–lack of sleep is a stress on the body. Even though you may have just eaten something huge before bed, if you get less sleep than you need, your primitive brain will think you are currently being hunted, unable to rest. Cortisol packs on the pounds, because if some wild animal is chasing you, you don’t have time to find food, right? In addition, there is another hormone called leptin that is secreted when you haven’t had enough sleep that actually makes you crave food–even when you aren’t actually hungry (thanks, brain!). Especially sweet food (thanks AGAIN, brain!). This is the very definition of a vicious cycle (note to self: look up the origin of that phrase later and see if it is connected to cortisol).
Diabetes: In research it has been proven that people who get less than adequate sleep are predisposed to develop Type 2 diabetes. The thought is that lack of sleep changes the way our body breaks down glucose. New studies have shown that metabolic syndrome can lead to early hearing loss. Getting ahead of sleep issues now can affect your health in the long run, and even how long your “run” will be (see below).
Immunity: Lack of sleep drives up cytokines, which can increase inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that people who are sleep deprived are more susceptible to colds and the flu. Here is a link to an entire article on this: http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/immune-system-lack-of-sleep. I truly believe this alone should be enough motivation to try to get more sleep, but if not, take a look at the next reason below.
Life Expectancy: I have met a few people in my office who swear they need less than 5 hours of sleep per night, and that they have been functioning for years in this way. This is almost a badge of honor for them. However, three large-scale epidemiological studies have shown that people who get less than 5 hours of sleep per night have a 15% higher mortality risk (healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/).
Getting more sleep is a controllable, conscious effort you can make to your overall health. However, it is hard to create new habits and break old ones, and if you have been getting less than your adequate amount of sleep for months or even years, it can be a hard cycle to break. Here’s where acupuncture comes in: in a recent study acupuncture has been shown to cure insomnia at nearly the same levels for depressed patients as an antidepressants, but with zero side effects. The side effects of the antidepressants in the study included weight gain, drowsiness, constipation, vision changes and dizziness. Most insomnia patients are prescribed either over-the-counter or prescription meds with similar side effects. Why not give acupuncture a try instead? It can work quickly, within a week, but follow up visits will be necessary if the insomnia has been in occurrence for a long period of time.
Here’s a link to the article (also has some great acupressure points for insomnia): http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1597-acupuncture-rivals-antidepressants-for-insomnia-and-depression
And, come see me so we can get ahead of your sleep issues, NATURALLY…