Stress is becoming a growing epidemic in the digital age. Whether it’s the constant connection to the world or the pressure to achieve, many people feel like they are unable to keep up with their responsibilities and that causes stress. Stress management skills don’t come naturally to everyone but have become a necessary part of modern life. Acupuncture is a natural way to manage stress and bring long-term balance to your well-being.
The Two-Pronged Approach to Stress Relief
All stress is not unhealthy. It serves a survival purpose. Stress triggers the fight or flight response by releasing the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which heighten the senses and provide the energy needed to escape a dangerous situation. However, the human body wasn’t designed for chronic stress, wherein these hormones continually flow through the body.
Acupuncture works both directly and indirectly to reduce stress. Studies have shown that when acupuncture is used at the correct pressure points, it can reduce the amount of stress hormone released in the body. The effect can last as long as three months after treatments have stopped. As stress goes down so do anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of chronic stress.
Indirectly, acupuncture can improve the quality of your sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Studies have shown that acupuncture increases the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, effectively helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
The Importance of Sleep and Stress Management
At first glance it may seem like sleep and stress aren’t closely related, but in reality, the two form a cyclical relationship. Stress causes many people to toss and turn throughout the night. Whenever you get less than a full seven hours of sleep, you enter a state of sleep deprivation. In this state, the emotional center of your brain becomes more susceptible to negative stimuli. At the same time, the reasoning center of the brain becomes less active, giving your emotions more control over your behavior than usual.
When acupuncture reduces stress and allows you to get more sleep, it gives your body a chance restore emotional balance.
The stress-relieving and sleep-improving effects of acupuncture work best when used in conjunction with the good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene includes all the habits and behaviors in your life that contribute to the quality of your sleep. Good sleep hygiene includes:
keeping a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and wake up around the same time each day
eating a healthy, well-balanced diet
avoiding stimulants four hours before bed to prevent blocking melatonin
turning off electronics two to three hours before bed to prevent the suppression of melatonin
developing a relaxing bedtime routine
spending time in natural sunlight
Your sleep conditions can also have an impact on your sleep. A bedroom that’s kept dark, cool, and quiet provides the right atmosphere. Give yourself the best chance to get the restorative sleep you need to manage stress and function at your best.