Laying awake in bed at night staring at the ceiling and thinking about all the things we have to do tomorrow morning is a pain most of us know all too well. Anxiety-induced insomnia is a common sleep disorder which causes us difficulty to fall and subsequently stay asleep. Some of us experience insomnia in sporadic short bouts whereas others unfortunately experience it for months at a time.
Whilst insomnia can be caused by a number of triggers including stress, anxiety, depression, noise, room temperature, uncomfortable beds, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy, jet lag, and shift work - acupressure may provide some relief from those sleepless nights.
Acupressure is a form of alternative therapy in which manual pressure is used to stimulate specific points on the body along that are considered to be lines of energy corresponding to different aspects of our physical and mental health.
Whilst advanced acupressure should be performed by a professional, there are some simple techniques for stimulating pressure points on your own to achieve higher quality sleep.
What's the science?
Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique that’s often used in conjunction with acupuncture. Originating in traditional Chinese medicine, acupressure has been used for thousands of years, though only more recently have studies been undertaken to understand the legitimacy of its application.
As of 2021, the research is limited with promising results. In 2010, a study involving 25 participants found that sleep quality improved after acupressure was performed on subjects with a history of sleep trouble. The benefits were found to continue for up to two weeks after acupressure treatment ended.
A 2011 study the following year found similar positive results in 45 postmenopausal women with beneficial reactions lasting up to four weeks after treatment.
As mentioned, though numerous studies have found positive results, the testing pool is limited and therefore there has been a reluctance from some experts to draw concrete conclusions.
Thankfully, there is no evidence that acupressure lowers the quality of our sleep so it’s worth trying to see if it works for you.
Here are five of our favourite pressure points for better sleep:
The Wind Pool
The wind pool pressure point is located on the back of your neck. You can find the wind pool by feeling for the mastoid bone located behind yours where your neck muscles connect to your skull. This pressure point is considered to reduce sleep respiratory issues that may wake you in the night such as coughing.
To calm your mind, follow these steps:
- Place your hands together and gently open your palms with your fingers interlocked, creating a cup shape with your hands.
- Apply deep and firm pressure towards the base of your skull using your thumbs. Use circular or up-and-down movements to massage the area for around 5 seconds.
- Notice your breathing. Take deep breathes as you massage the area.
The Three Yin Intersection
You can find the three yin intersection point just above your ankle on your inner leg. This pressure point can assist with pelvic disorders or alleviating menstrual cramps, though be sure to avoid the three yin intersection if you’re pregnant as it has been associated with inducing labour!
For better sleep, follow these steps:
- Find the highest point of your ankle.
- Count the width of four fingers above your ankle.
- Apply pressure to the tibia, the biggest bone in your lower leg. Massage the area in circular or up-and-down motions for around 5 seconds.
The Bubbling Spring
Sticking with the lower extremities, you can find the bubbling spring on the sole of your feet. Curl your toes inwards and you will see a slight depression in the middle of your foot guiding you to the location of the bubbling spring.
To ground your energy, follow these steps:
- Lay on your back and bend your knees at a preferred angle so you can reach your feet comfortably with your hands.
- Place one foot in your hand and curl your toes.
- Feel for the bubbling spring in the middle of the sole of your foot.
- Massage firmly in circular or up-and-down motions for 5 seconds. Repeat on the opposite foot.
The Spirit Gate
Making our way to the upper body, the spirit gate can be found at the below our little finger at the crease between our hand and wrist.
To quiet your mind, follow these steps:
- Apply gentle pressure to the hollow space in the crease of your wrist. Massage in circular or up-and-down motions.
- Continue applying pressure for between 2 and 3 minutes.
- Hold and apply gentle pressure to the left side of this point for 3 to 5 seconds, release and repeat on the right side of the pressure point.
- Repeat the process on the opposite wrist.
The Inner Frontier Gate
A slight adjustment from the spirit gate, you can locate the inner frontier gate on your inner forearm in the hollow space between two tendons.
To soothe nausea, follow these steps:
- Turn your hands so that your palms are facing up.
- Count the width of three fingers down from your wrist crease.
- Apply a steady stream of downward pressure between the two tendons on your wrist.
- Massage in circular or up-and-down motions for 5 seconds. Repeat on the opposite wrist.
For a natural remedy to anxiety-induced insomnia. Try these five acupressure exercises 15 minutes before bedtime. If you're concern about any underlying issues causing more severe long-term insomnia, get in touch with a medical professional.
To experience deep-pressure stimulation across multiple pressure points simultaneously, take a look at the DORMU Cooler and Snuggler weighted blanket collections and level up your sleep today.