Acupuncture is an age-old treatment method in traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting needles into certain points in the body. By inserting the needles in the right places, your life energy is put back in the right direction, allowing diseases to be cured. Acupuncture is also used to solve sleeping problems.
What acupuncture is
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine. This method is more than 2,500 years old and is linked to Chinese philosophy. In traditional Chinese medicine, illness and health are explained by the life energy ( chi ) that circulates through the 12 meridians. These have branches to all organs and body functions. With this treatment method, needles are placed on the acupuncture points in the body. Some acupuncturists place stainless steel needles at or near the site of the disease. You can also choose to treat based on symptoms. Traditional acupuncture usually involves a combination of both points.
For sleeping problems
If you have sleep problems, you may not immediately think of needle sticks, but there is plenty of research that confirms their effectiveness. Acupuncture has a calming effect on the nervous system and can correct the imbalances that cause insomnia. Very fine needles are applied to certain areas of your body. If the points where life energy flows are stimulated, this can lead to mental and physical changes that have a positive effect on sleep problems.
The effect on sleeping
Acupuncture has been shown to reduce anxiety and increase levels of the sleep hormone melatonin. It stimulates the messenger chemicals in the brain, which, among other things, produces endorphins in the brain. This provides a good feeling, allowing you to relax better. By stimulating the body’s acupuncture points, deep sleep is prolonged, reducing the chance of waking up in the middle of the night.
Causes of insomnia
According to acupuncturists, diseases are caused by blockages in the meridians. Meridians are the paths in which life energy circulates. Interruptions and blockages of this flow of energy can lead to all kinds of complaints such as stress and insomnia. By placing needles or applying pressure with the fingertips, problems in the associated meridian can be resolved, causing the energy to flow again and the complaints to disappear.
Treatment for insomnia
When treating insomnia, acupuncturists often choose points on the heart meridians because they are responsible for mental activity and consciousness. The cause of the sleep problems is also examined. You may be suffering from headaches, another form of pain, stress or restless leg syndrome. Various combinations of placing the needles are possible. The needles are inserted by hand or with the help of a device. The number of needles can vary from two to twenty or much more.
Does it hurt?
If you’re wondering if this is a painful treatment, the answer is hardly. Everyone has a different pain threshold; some feel nothing at all while others may feel it slightly. The needles are very thin, so you hardly feel the insertion. Once the needle is inserted, the skin around the needle will become numb or feel heavy. This is a good sign. The needles usually remain in place for fifteen minutes to half an hour.
Repeating the treatment
To get a good result, you will probably need six to ten treatments. If you notice that it works, this does not necessarily mean the end of the treatments. You can continue to visit the acupuncturist occasionally. It also serves as a kind of psychotherapy, keeping your stress levels low and sleep problems away.
It is wise to look for a certified acupuncturist who is affiliated with a professional organization. There are doctors, nurses and psychotherapists who also provide acupuncture treatments, but they may have taken a weekend course in a specific form of acupuncture, for example to relieve pain. Make sure you find the right acupuncturist and don’t be ashamed to ask about his or her experiences.
Recognition of acupuncture
Acupuncture is not a recognized medical profession and in the Netherlands is considered so-called alternative or complementary medicine. It is performed by both physicians and non-physicians. In the Netherlands, physician acupuncturists can join the Dutch Physicians Acupuncture Association (NAAV). As a non-physician acupuncturist you can become a member of professional associations for therapists such as the Dutch Association for Acupuncture (NVA) or the Dutch Working Group for Practice in Natural Medicine. (NWP).
- Learn to sleep with the power of your thoughts
- Sleeping snacks for a good night’s sleep
- Insomnia due to stress: what can be done about it?
- Insomnia due to depression: how to tackle it?
- Insomnia: how can you best deal with it?