Do you have a headache right now? Perhaps you have been having trouble sleeping, or your stomach has been upset.
If these symptoms seem like a typical day to you, you may be chronically stressed. People deal with this stress in different ways. Some may overeat, drink more alcohol or stop exercising. Most people don’t make healthy choices when their bodies are stressed out.
However, to relieve the symptoms of stress, you have to take care of yourself. Exercising regularly and making an attempt to relax can reduce some of the tension. Sometimes, though, making time for socializing and hobbies still doesn’t seem to stop the headaches or stomach churning. Then it may be time to try some alternative methods of improving your physical health to help manage stress: acupuncture treatments and improved sleep health.
How Acupuncture Affects Stress
Although Chinese medicine has known the effects of acupuncture on stress for years, Western medicine has just begun to probe how acupuncture works to relieve stress. A study recently completed on rats exposed two different groups of rats to cold stress. One group received sham acupuncture, which didn’t use the right point (meridian point 36) and the other received acupuncture at the correct spot. The rats who received real acupuncture didn’t show signs of stress, even four days after the treatment ended. Rats and humans share this point, so the effect may also help people.
A study of stressed college students also showed the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment. Once again, some students received sham acupuncture, and others received real acupuncture. While both groups initially reported decreased stress, only those who received real acupuncture said they had reduced stress even 12 weeks after the treatment. This finding implies that acupuncture can continue to have stress-relieving benefits even after the treatment is over.
How Sleep Affects Stress
Many people know that stress makes it harder to sleep, but did you know that less rest can make you more stressed out? When you don’t sleep a full seven or more hours per night, you may notice some irritability. Researchers have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to respond with more stress, anger, and anxiety to mild stressors. Sleep deprivation may make you livid that you spilled coffee on yourself. Poor sleep seems to correlate with more negative emotions and less positive emotions, so it’s hard to manage stress when you’re sleep deprived.
What You Can Do
To receive the stress-reducing benefits of acupuncture, you can sign up for a few weeks of treatment. Have your doctor recommend an acupuncturist or find one that has completed the correct certifications for your area. If you don’t feel better after the first session, that’s okay. Sometimes it takes a couple of treatments for you to feel less stressed. However, it’s possible that you will continue to feel less stressed for a while after you stop treatments, so the benefits linger.
If you reduce your stress with acupuncture and other remedies, your sleep may improve. However, you can give it a boost by setting yourself a bedtime and making your bedroom a restful place. Bedtimes (and regular wake times) help your internal clock sort out when it’s supposed to be awake and when it’s supposed to be asleep. If you go to bed at a consistent time, you’ll eventually start getting tired around that time too. When you hop in bed, it should be comfy. Many people don’t know if their mattresses support their weight and preferred sleep position as they should. Make your bedroom relaxing by adding blackout curtains to minimize light disturbances and adding a white noise machine to muffle annoying sounds.
By taking steps to reduce your stress, you may banish those constant headaches and that upset stomach. Acupuncture and improved sleep habits can help.
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