If you’re feeling stressed, you may find it difficult to sleep. Stress is a common culprit for sleepless nights — and unfortunately, sleep deprivation can make stress even worse.
Decreasing stress with acupuncture and healthy sleep habits can help you break the cycle of stress and sleep. When you decrease stress, you can sleep better, and when you sleep better, you’re in a better position to manage stress in a healthy way.
Sleep and Reactions to Stress
When you’re sleep deprived, you’re more likely to have a stronger negative response to stressors. When you’re tired, you have less patience and energy to deal with the annoyances and stresses of life. Sleep deprived people report greater subjective stress, anxiety, and anger than those who are well rested, and sleep deprivation can lower the psychological threshold for perception of stress.
Using Acupuncture to Decrease Stress
It’s not unusual for acupuncture patients to experience improvement of symptoms including chronic stress, depression, and anxiety. A study of acupuncture’s effect on stress in rats found that acupuncture can decrease some of the effects of stress. Rats who had been exposed to stress, then treated with acupuncture, behaved more like normal rats who hadn’t been exposed to stress.
Better Sleep Habits for Better Sleep
Of course, reducing stress and getting better sleep can’t be achieved with acupuncture alone. Acupuncture is just one part of an overall healthy strategy to sleep well and reduce stress. Use these tips to build better sleep habits and alleviate the effects of stress so you can sleep better at night:
Practice relaxation techniques. Wind down at night by making relaxation part of your bedtime routine. Try yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, a hot bath, or aromatherapy to relax and wash away stress before you go to bed.
Create a comfortable sleep environment. A healthy sleep environment should be calm and soothing. Keep work and other stressors out of your bedroom, and avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep or sex. Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark, using blackout curtains and white noise if needed. Reduce or eliminate clutter, which can be anxiety inducing, and paint your walls in a light or neutral color that’s soothing and relaxing.
Make sleep a priority. Stressful, busy lives can push sleep far down on the list of priorities, but rest is one of your most important tasks of the day. Schedule your life around sleep, not the other way around. You should aim to give yourself at least eight hours of time to rest each night so you’ll have plenty of time to get the recommended seven hours of sleep.
Sleep in a position that’s comfortable for you. Everyone has their own sleep personality and position that they prefer, but some sleep positions are better than others. Generally, stomach sleeping isn’t good for proper alignment of the spine and support for your body. Back sleeping or side sleeping tend to be better choices for supportive sleep that doesn’t aggravate the body’s pressure points.