How To Use Pressure Points To Help You Fall Asleep

The National Sleep Foundation¹ recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night for optimum health. Of course, this isn’t always possible. Many different things can lead to sleeplessness, ranging from stress to uncomfortable sleeping conditions — or even anxiety about waking up on time!

Insomnia is a common sleep complaint. It may involve difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It might also cause you to wake up too early.

Up to 35%² of people experience insomnia on some level:

  • 30 to 35% experience brief insomnia symptoms

  • 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder (lasting up to three months)

  • 10% experience a chronic insomnia disorder (symptoms occur at least three times per week for at least three months)

Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique with a long history that may help people with difficulty sleeping.

Read on to learn more about acupressure and how using pressure points could help you fall asleep.

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What is acupressure?

Acupressure is a noninvasive form of acupuncture. Instead of using metal needles inserted below the skin to stimulate sensory nerves and release natural chemicals, acupressure just involves using pressure.

A health professional can carry out this alternative treatment, but you can safely perform acupressure on yourself too. It involves applying pressure to a specific point with your finger, thumb, or knuckle. You could even use a blunt pointed object, like a pen.

The practice is thought to help ease pain by releasing endorphins (pain-relieving chemicals). It can also clear up digestive issues and promote sleep quality. While acupressure is not a cure-all, it does appear to have some impact on health.

Can acupressure help with insomnia?

While studies are somewhat limited, preliminary evidence suggests acupressure can help people with insomnia get better sleep.

One study³ of 25 patients with sleep disorders showed that 60% experienced higher quality sleep within the first ten days of treatment. Fourteen patients in the study had cancer. Of these, 79% experienced improved sleep quality after acupressure treatment.

Another study⁴ showed acupressure not only improved sleep quality in middle-aged and elderly patients with hypertension, but it also improved blood pressure control. This was likely because improved sleep lowers blood pressure.

It’s also possible that acupressure relieves insomnia because of the placebo effect. However, if your sleep quality improves because of the placebo effect, this will still be beneficial for you. 

Ask your doctor if they recommend trying acupressure to help ease your insomnia.

How to use acupressure to get to sleep

To use acupressure effectively, you need to know which pressure points to use.

The recommended pressure points for improving sleep are:

  • KD1 (the middle of the foot just behind the middle toe)

  • SP6 (the inside of your lower leg, about four inches above the ankle)

  • PC6 (the middle of your arm, about three inches from your hand)

  • HT7 (the outside of your wrist)

  • An Mian (about an inch behind your ear lobe)

  • Yin Tang (between your eyebrows)

Apply pressure to each point for about 30 seconds on both sides of your body. You can do this yourself or have your partner do it for you.

It’s best to ask a qualified practitioner for advice before trying acupressure yourself. Doing it incorrectly can result in discomfort or no positive change.

Does acupressure have risks?

Acupressure has not been well studied in pregnant people. You should not use acupressure while pregnant without talking to your doctor first.

Stop using acupressure if you experience any kind of discomfort. Don’t use pressure points in areas where you are numb, have an injury, or have had a recent blood clot. Never use enough pressure to cause pain. The pressure should feel good.

Acupressure is generally considered safe and does not typically cause side effects. However, it is easy to get wrong, and you might not experience the potential benefits.

Who is acupressure best for?

When assessing the efficacy of acupressure, the best results have been seen in studies involving people with cancer.

As many as half of cancer patients⁵ have difficulty sleeping due to stress, drugs, treatments, or hospitalization. Many people find it much harder to sleep in a hospital due to the environment, the hospital routine interrupting sleep, or hospital schedules not being suited to their natural circadian rhythm.

Evidence⁶ also shows acupressure can help women suffering from symptoms of menopause, including post-menopausal insomnia.

A lot more research is needed to establish who can benefit from acupressure.

When to see a doctor

The occasional sleepless night is normal. However, talk to your doctor if you regularly have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep or if you wake up unreasonably early without external influences such as noise. 

A sleep study will help establish if you have a sleep disorder. You can work with your doctor to manage your condition and create a treatment plan to help improve your sleep. Insomnia could be a sign of an underlying condition that may require treatment.

You might want to try acupressure to help you get a better night’s sleep. Ask your doctor if they recommend this or if they have any tips.

Talk to your care team about acupressure if you have cancer and difficulty sleeping.

The lowdown

Preliminary evidence shows acupressure can be used as a safe way to help people fall asleep. However, much more research is needed.

It’s safe to try acupressure to improve your sleep, but it’s best to get professional guidance first. Be sure to speak to your doctor if you have chronic sleep problems.

Have you considered clinical trials for Insomnia?

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