(NaturalNews) Having trouble sleeping? Don't resort to a prescription solution; try a little acupuncture, the Chinese-developed treatment for a host of health-related issues.
First things first, however. In order to best treat your insomnia, you need to figure out why you're experiencing it.
"Although insomnia is the most common sleep complaint, it is not a single sleep disorder. It's more accurate to think of insomnia as a symptom of another problem. The problem causing the insomnia differs from person to person," says HelpGuide.org.
What kind of stressors do you have in your life? Can you manage them better? What about your eating habits - do you like to eat heavy meals late, like within an hour of going to bed? Do you drink too much caffeine throughout the day? Each of these can cause you to lose sleep. "The good news is that most cases of insomnia can be cured with changes you can make on your own - without relying on sleep specialists or turning to prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills," HelpGuide.org advises.
Studies have shown effectiveness
"Insomnia is commonly encountered in clinical practice, reportedly, with a prevalence of nearly 40 percent in certain populations," says the journal Medical Acupuncture. "Although not commonly used for this condition, acupuncture may be helpful in the treatment of insomnia and has an excellent tolerability and safety profile."
The concept of acupuncture focuses on the so-called yin and yang energy within your body. From CenterAccupuncture.com:
The Yang energy circulates through the Yang areas of your body during the day keeping your mind active. At night, this Yang energy should return to the Yin areas of your body, deeper and lower in your body. If the Yang energy stays in the Yang areas of your brain and eyes, these parts will continue to be energized and prevent you from falling asleep leading to insomnia.
A 2007-2008 study in Taiwan involving 33 patients with primary insomnia found that acupuncture was as effective as the drug zolpidem (sold under the brand names of Ambien, tilnox, and Sublinox). In that study, participants were either given one acupuncture treatment per week or 10 mg of zolpidem per night.
"Researchers found both groups improved over time at a similar rate," said s summary of the study. "Results suggest that acupuncture may be an effective therapy for insomnia."
The most common "treatment" for insomnia in the U.S. is, unfortunately, medication - not just sleep aids but also benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants. Sedatives and oral hypnotics are also utilized heavily, but they "have high abuse potential and can be addicting," Medical Acupuncture says.
The tricyclic antidepressants can have debilitating and undesirable effects too, such as dry mouth, orthostatic hypotension (dramatically decreased blood pressure upon standing or standing too quickly), urinary retention or heart arrhythmias.
Repeated treatments may be necessary
While drugs can have blanket effects on patients, acupuncturists take a much more individualized approach.
"Acupuncturists take a detailed history, which includes questioning, pulse analysis and tongue diagnosis, to give a complete picture of the patient as a whole. Even if it is determined that two different patients have insomnia as a result of yin deficiency, their treatments may still be different, depending on each person's constitution (strength and type of overall body and health) and other factors," writes Melissa Sokulski, an acupuncturist, herbalist, and founder of the website Food Under Foot.
According to experts, you're most likely to get your best night's sleep right after your acupuncture treatment, but several days later, your insomnia could return.
"This is in indication that you should receive your acupuncture treatment for insomnia more frequently. It usually takes several acupuncture treatments per week, for several weeks to fully resolve chronic insomnia," CenterAccupuncture.com advises.