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  • Writer's pictureGulf Coast Acupuncture and Fertility

When Counting Sheep Leaves You Sleepless

Sleep can be one of life’s greatest pleasures or one of its biggest frustrations. According to the American Sleep Association, most healthy adults need 7-9 hours of sleep nightly to function their best.

In 2014, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) declared sleep deprivation to be a public health epidemic. I know that sounds pretty extreme until you consider the true impact of sleep deprivation. Chronic sleep loss takes a big toll on your body - both inside and out. We see the short-term signs of sleep deprivation manifested every morning in the mirror after a restless or sleepless night noticing a range of side effects such as dull complexion, dry skin, or dark circles under our eyes.

In 2013, a university study was the first to definitively link poor sleep with increased signs of skin aging and slower recovery from a variety of environmental stressors, such as disruption of the skin barrier or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. And we don’t just see it we feel it! Low energy, fatigue, stress, anxiety, and worrying are all common side effects associated with sleep deprivation.

Will I be able to sleep tonight? Will I have to resort to over-the-counter meds, or prescription sleep medications?

While sleep medications may be helpful in dealing with insomnia and other sleep disorders in the short term, they are not generally recommended for long-term use. Sleep medications can be physically and psychologically addictive and come with some serious potential side effects and health risks.

In fact, researchers found that people taking certain prescribed and over-the-counter sleep medications were almost five times more likely to die over the 2.5-year study, compared with those who didn't take sleep medication. That’s a pretty substantial risk. It’s no wonder so many people are dumping their pills and turning to alternative therapies in their quest for a good night’s sleep.

When we look at the research centered on acupuncture, it tells a pretty positive story. Clinical trials released by researchers at the prestigious Zhejiang Chinese Medical University found acupuncture to be more effective than certain drugs types similar to those routinely prescribed for the treatment of insomnia; results strongly indicate acupuncture as an effective treatment method.

So how does acupuncture help increase the quality of your sleep? Not only does acupuncture help with better sleep, but also can address those symptoms that are keeping you up at night and get to the root of why those symptoms are occurring in the first place. Acupuncture helps restore balance, alleviate pain, stress and anxiety which all can interfere with a great night’s sleep. When systemic balance is restored, symptoms disappear and greater overall health is achieved. After one session, regardless of what you are being treated for, many notice better sleep that same night, reduced stress, and a feeling of calm and well-being.

Statistically speaking 79% of people get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep. Women sleep longer – men average 5 hours, 45 minutes, while women average 6 hours, 9 minutes. 50% reported regularly using a mix of two or more sleep aids per night, such as prescription medications, over-the-counter sleeping pills, or herbal remedies/food supplements for sleep.

Anyone can and will have an occasional sleepless night, but on average 30 percent of adults report having short term bouts of insomnia. Most people will toss and turn for a night or two and get back on track after a few days. Others aren’t so lucky. Ten percent of adults suffer from chronic insomnia lasting months or even years. For those who suffer from chronic insomnia, the issue is threatening to their overall health and well-being. Your risk for insomnia is greater if:

· You’re a woman - any age

· You’re over the age of 60

· You have a mental or physical health condition

· You’re under a lot of stress daily

· You don’t have a regular schedule

The American Sleep Association estimates that 50-70 million US adults have some form of sleep disorder. The most common sleep disorder is insomnia, which is characterized by trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Insomnia symptoms may include:

· Difficulty falling asleep at night

· Waking frequently during the night

· Waking too early and can’t fall back asleep

· Feeling tired even after a night's sleep

· Daytime tiredness, drowsiness or sleepiness

· Irritability, depression or anxiety

· Difficulty focusing on tasks or memory loss

· Increased mistakes and risk for accidents

· Ongoing worries about sleep

What’s keeping us up at night? The unrelenting 24/7 pace and stressors of today’s world means sleep is even more important to our general health and well-being than ever before. Lack of sleep can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction times just as much as being intoxicated, raising the risk for accidents in the home, workplace and on the road. The most common culprits: stress, concerns about work, school, health, money or family can keep your mind racing and make it hard to fall asleep. Traumatic, high-stress life events such as the death or illness of a loved one, divorce, or a job loss can also lead to insomnia. Coffee, tea, soda and other caffeinated drinks are stimulants. Avoid drinking them in the late afternoon or evening. Nicotine is another stimulant that can interfere with sleep. Alcohol can help you fall asleep, but prevents you from reaching the high-quality deeper stages of sleep, plus it may keep you waking up in the middle of the night. Disruptive travel or work schedule can affect your body’s circadian rhythms that act as an internal clock for your sleep-wake cycle, metabolism, and body temperature. Computers, TVs, video games, smartphones and other electronic screens before bed can disrupt your sleep cycle. Naps, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment, and using your bed for work, eating or watching TV are also indicative of poor sleep habits.

The long-term damage of sleep deprivation is of even more concern. Multiple studies and reports reveal untreated sleep disorders can result in:

· Lower performance on the job or at school

· Slowed reaction time while driving and a higher risk of accidents

· Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse

· Increased risk for developing diseases or health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity

· Rapid aging and breakdown of collagen resulting in fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced skin elasticity

If you have trouble sleeping or regularly struggle with insomnia or any other type of sleep disorder, please contact us here at Gulf Coast Acupuncture and Fertility. We are here to help!

Schedule your appointment today. Sleep better tonight.


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