photography by PHUONG NGUYEN
Whether you wake up during the night or have difficulty falling asleep in the first place, getting a good night's rest is easier said than done. If you feel like you've tried it all without success, acupuncture may be the next step.
“Acupuncture is a great tool for many stress-related conditions including anxiety, which is a common cause of poor sleep,” says Alik Minikhonov, an acupuncture practitioner at Holistic Healing Center. But you don't need a full treatment to reap the benefits of acupuncture. We went to the experts to learn their tried-and-true bedtime methods, as well as the key pressure points to pay attention to on your body. These acupuncturist-approved methods are sure to help you fall asleep quicker and achieve a deeper rest.
Take an epsom salt bath
“Epsom and sea salts are both luxurious and healthy,” says Dr. Gabrielle Francis. “High in magnesium and other minerals, they relax muscles and calm the mind, while removing toxins like lactic acid from soft tissues.” She recommends mixing two cups of salt into a warm bath and soaking for 20 minutes. “Relax and visualize stress leaving your body.”
Soak your feet in warm water before bed
This technique has been used in China for thousands of years and was recommend by multiple acupuncturists. It’s a great option if you don’t want to commit to a full bath. "Soak your feet in warm water for 30 minutes before going to bed, then press the kidney (KI) acupoint [on the bottom of the foot] for 10 minutes,” says acupuncturist Wen Jiang. “It is located a third of the way along a line drawn from the root of the second toe to the heel."
If you don’t have a half an hour, Nicole Withrow recommends 10 to 15 minutes. “This works to help ground the body’s energy before getting into bed by utilizing the kidney channel on the bottom of the feet to help settle the central nervous system,” Withrow explains. She also suggests combining this practice with other forms of relaxation such as breath work, meditation, prayer, or reading.
Massage your toes
“If I had to give one tip, it would be to massage the pads of all the toes—especially the big toe,” says Dan Ferguson. These areas help to calm the mind and the brain. The pressure you place should be light to moderate and only needs to be done for about 45 seconds.
Massage the point behind the ear in slow circular motions
“Depending on the underlying cause of your insomnia, acupressure massage on the point anmian may help,” Bonnie Sweetland explains. “Stimulating this point is said to both calm the spirit and pacify liver wind, which is a possible contributing factor of sleep trouble.” Massage in slow circular motions or gently press and hold the point, which is located behind the ear, for a couple minutes several times a day.
Add essential oils into your nighttime routine
This is something that can be an add-on to any of the previously mentioned tips or other pre-bed routines. “Essential oils help because of their pharmacological effects on your physiology, and because of their olfactory effects on the limbic system of your brain,” Dr. Francis explains.
She specifically suggests using lavender: “Lavender essential oil stimulates the part of the autonomic nervous system known as the parasympathic system that helps to calm the body and takes us out of fight or flight mode.” Try adding a couple drops to a diffuser, to bathwater, or inhale directly from the bottle.
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Published on April 16, 2017