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Use of acupressure for sleep disturbances has been studied by numerous research facilities, universities, and healthcare professionals. While each study has produced varying results, the general understanding is that acupressure for sleep provides numerous benefits regarding a reduction in symptoms. Depending on the specific cause of sleep disturbances, the benefits include a more relaxed state of being, prevention of respiratory issues, improved circulation, and of course, better, more restful sleep patterns. Symptoms typically seen as co-morbid with sleep disorders, such as irritability, headaches, and daytime sleepiness, were also reduced.
In general practice, acupressure utilizes the same pressure points on the body as acupuncture, with the primary difference being that acupressure does not involve piercing the skin. Instead, the fingers are used to apply mild to moderate pressure along various meridians in the body. Many studies involving acupressure for sleep also studied the use of acupuncture, since the two disciplines are so similar. Benefits reported by practitioners and patients were the same for both approaches. While not all conditions, such as severe sleep apnea, realized the same level of benefits, most demonstrated some degree of improvement in sleep.
Improving sleep through the use of acupressure varies, depending on the cause of the sleep problem. For example, sleep apnea patients typically undergo a type of acupressure for sleep known as auricular acupoint pressing (AAP). Auricular acupoint pressing uses pressure points in the ear to stimulate blood flow and correct muscle performance in the upper respiratory system. Patients receiving AAP typically present with fewer instances of breathing cessation, the primary cause of repeated awakenings.
Insomnia, another sleep problem addressed by acupressure, relies on different pressure points than sleep apnea. Although the pressure points used might change, the benefits are similar. Better, deeper, more restful sleep is achieved by helping to restore balance within the body. Improvement in circulation, the release of endorphins and serotonin, and an overall feeling of relaxation created by the use of pressure points can help alleviate insomnia symptoms. According to studies, nearly 90 percent of patients benefited from a near-complete relief of insomnia as a result of acupressure.
Typically, patients realize additional benefits from the use of either acupuncture or acupressure for sleep disturbances or sleep-related disorders. Disruptions in healthy sleep patterns create a wealth of additional health and emotional problems, such as irritability, depression, weight gain, headaches, and daytime fatigue. When combined with lifestyle and behavioral changes, patients often feel less depressed, lose weight, and have fewer headaches as a result of treatments.
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