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Top 10 Health Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep: Why sleep matters to you

Posted on November 4, 2012 at 11:10 AM Comments comments ()
From Mark Stibich, Ph.D., former Guide Updated May 08, 2009

Sleep, we all love it, especially when you wake up from a great night's sleep. In the past, sleep was often ignored by doctors and surrounded by myths, but now we are beginning to understand the importance of sleep to overall health and well-being. In fact, when people get less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep each night, their risk for developing diseases begins to increase. 
1. Sleep Keeps Your Heart Healthy Heart attacks and strokes are more common during the early morning hours. This fact may be explained by the way sleep interacts with the blood vessels. Lack of sleep has been associated with worsening of blood pressure and cholesterol, all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Your heart will be healthier if you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night.
2. Sleep May Prevent Cancer People working the late shift have a higher risk for breast and colon cancer. Researchers believe this link is caused by differing levels of melatonin in people who are exposed to light at night. Light exposure reduces the level of melatonin, a hormone that both makes us sleepy and is thought to protect against cancer. Melatonin appears to suppress the growth of tumors. Be sure that your bedroom is dark to help your body produce the melatonin it needs. 
3. Sleep Reduces Stress When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body's functions are put on high alert which causes an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. Higher blood pressure increases your risk for heart attacks and strokes. The stress hormones also, unfortunately, make it harder for you to sleep..
4. Sleep Reduces Inflammation The increase in stress hormones raises the level of inflammation in your body, also creating more risk for heart-related conditions, as well as cancer and diabetes. Inflammation is thought to one of the causes of the deterioration of your body as you age.  
5. Sleep Makes You More Alert Of course, a good night's sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great, it increases your chances for another good night's sleep. When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged in your world. You'll sleep better the next night and increase your daily energy level. 
6. Sleep Bolsters Your Memory Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but a process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. While your body may be resting, your brain is busy processing your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings and memories. Your dreams and deep sleep are an important time for your brain to make memories and links. Getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better. 
7. Sleep May Help You Lose Weight Researchers have also found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is thought that the lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, important for the regulation of appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep. So if you are interested in controlling or losing weight, don't forget to pay attention to getting a good night's sleep.  
8. Naps Make You Smarter Napping during the day is not only an effective and refreshing alternative to caffeine, it can also protect your health and make you more productive. A study of 24,000 Greek adults showed that people who napped several times a week had a lower risk for dying from heart disease. People who nap at work have much lower levels of stress. Napping also improves memory, cognitive function and mood.
9. Sleep May Reduce Your Risk for Depression Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with a deficiency in serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. You can help to prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep, between 7 and 9 hours each night.
10. Sleep Helps the Body Make Repairs Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage.  

Acupuncture Treatment of Sleep Disorders

Posted on July 11, 2012 at 11:15 PM Comments comments ()
Insomnia is a common symptom in which sleep quality or quantity is inadequate or non restorative even though there is enough sleep opportunity. Recently insomnia is considered not only just as a symptom but as a coherent collection of symptoms, a syndrome, which can exist associated with various causes that lead to concrete disorders. Insomnia is classified in four types: difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia), frequent or sustained awakenings (sleep maintenance insomnia), early morning awakenings (sleep offset insomnia); and persistent sleepiness regardless of sleep of adequate duration (nonrestorative sleep). Disturbance of nocturnal sleep pattern can be transient if it last less than one month or chronic, if takes more than one month. Even though elderly are particularly affected, insomnia affects all age groups. The causes of insomnia are: psychiatric disorders including depression and anxiety, Drug and alcohol abuse, sleep apnea, chronic pain disorder, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bladder problems causing frequent urination, the various dementias that produces night-time agitation and others. Environmental factors such as noise, a move to a new environment, a newborn in the household, and a troublesome sleep partner (snoring and excessive movements) may lead to insomnia. The classical therapeutic approach include elimination of psicostimulants, sleep hygiene, and pharmacologic treatments with sedatives, hypnotics and others. Traditional Chinese Medicine can frequently help in sleep disorders through the regulation of Zang s´ functions; balance between Qi and Xue, and between Yin – Yang. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine inappropriate emotions, improper food intake can produce stagnation of qi, which can be transformed in fire. The fire ascends and damage heart, the Zang who house the mind, and insomnia appears. The deficiency of yin and xue, insufficiency of Spleen, Gall Bladder produce disturbs in heart and then insomnia occurs.
Case history
A 47-years-old female patient with chronic insomnia lasting 6 month was remitted to our department of traditional chinese medicine. In the evaluation, she had a history of Hypertension since 1986 after delivery of her daughter, and Diabetes Mellitus since august 2005, both treated and controlled with conventional medication. The chief complain was insomnia,  pain and numbness on neck and right superior limb. Her Insomnia consists of in difficulty falling asleep with restlessness, frequent awakenings almost every hour, no nonrestorative sleep lasting 5 to 6 hours and consequent tiredness during day. Pain was intense, 8 in scale 0 to 10, with 0, no pain and 10, insupportable pain.
On physical examination we found an obese of second degree patient (body mass index; 36,9), contraction of muscles in right interscapular, bilateral paravertebral, neck region. Tongue examination: Red, purple tongue with thin coating; multiple small fissures on third anterior and posterior body of the tongue. Pulse: It was found weak pulse, thin and slippery at superficial level, the right pulse less thin and more slippery at superficial level than the left pulse. She looks older that the chronological age.

According to the diagnostics principles of TCM the main unbalance of the patient was Deficiency of Kidney Yin and Qi and Deficiency Qi of Spleen. She has secondary unbalances: Disharmony between Heart and Kidney, Hyperactivity of Liver Yang and Stagnant Qi in channels and collaterals.
We use different therapeutic resources as ear acupuncture therapy, Chinesse Massage Tuina and control of Bu Nei Wei Yin. The general strategy was to tonify Qi and Yin of Kidney as well as Qi and Xue of Spleen; to promote free circulation of Qi and Xue in Channels and Colaterals; to reinforce Water of Heart in order to release the Heart’s Fire ; to regulate Heart and Liver; to harmonise Heart and Kidney. Tuina Massage was then applied rectifying the passages of Qi at vertebral level. In control of Bu Nei Wei Yin, the patient was advised to avoid yang activities at night, to evade spicy food at least 3 hours before sleep, to be aware about the first sensation of sleepiness at night in order to go bed (to be aware about the internal mutation Yin Yang at that level), and create a quiet environment without noise for sleeping. Auricular therapy with small seeds was applied in the points Spleen, Kidney, Lung, Shenmen, H-3, Sp-3 (auricular representation of points and channels) and kept in those points for 6 days. Patient was instructed to practice 4 stimulations daily, 1 min and half. The evaluation and treatment was done every week, for 6 weeks.
The pain at the beginning was intense, 8 in visual analogue scale(VAS) 0 to 10, with 0, no pain and 10, insupportable pain. For practical reasons we used a subjective individual scale (SIS) with 0 being no pain,  10 being the intensity of patient’s pain at the first moment of evaluation and treatment and 5 the half of these initial intensity of pain. After finishing the first week the patient’s pain decreased to 6 in SIS. The second week it decreased to 4 in SIS. The third week, to 3. The fourth week the pain was in 2 and after finishing the fifth the pain decreased to 0 in SIS and VAS. She follows without pain 6 month after that until now. The numbness disappeared after the first week. The sleep disorder became better after the first week of treatment. She was able to fall asleep easily and the restlessness before sleep disappears. After the second week, she was able to fall sleep without difficulties and she didn’t awake during sleep. After the thirst week, she could also sleep 7 hours without awaking and no tiredness during day. In this moment, she is able to fall sleep without difficulties during all night without awakenings. We observe also positive changes in familial dynamic.
With and integral approach, which take into consideration the whole of the patient, and the use of therapeutic resource of traditional Chinese medicine, we realize an adequate balance in the cycle of rest and activities. Even though the chronic illness, the time of evolution and characteristics of insomnia and the chronic pain, it was possible to balance with those resources of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Other comments to the author: cmanu

© 2012 The Journal of Chinese Medicineuid Light

Acupuncture Treats Sleep Apnea - New Research

Posted on July 11, 2012 at 11:03 PM Comments comments ()
Acupuncture Improves Sleep
A recent study shows that acupuncture as a treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has immediate effects in reducing nocturnal respiratory events, sleep disruptions, and desaturations (low oxygen levels in the blood). The researchers hypothesize that this improvement is due to acupuncture’s effects on serotonergic pathways and also acupuncture’s anti-inflammatory effects. Both manual acupuncture and 10Hz electro-acupuncture techniques were found effective. Both techniques produced superior clinical outcomes compared with 2Hz electro-acupuncture.

Acupuncture Technique used by Acupuncturists
The researchers used classical acupuncture techniques and acupuncture points in their study. The acupuncture points chosen for the study were: Lu6, Lu7, LI4, LI20, GV20, CV23, St36, St40, Sp6, K6, and extra point Shanglianquan (located near the hyoid bone). Copper-handle 40 X 0.25mm needles were used and inserted to traditional depths. Electro-acupuncture was applied to the neck points CV23 and Shanglianquan and a separate pair were connected to LI4 and St36. Electro-acupuncture stimulation had wave pulses of 0.45 ms
at 10Hz and increased to an intensity of between 0.6 - 0.8 mA which produced a mild twitch. The manual acupuncture group receive manual stimulation to the needle until
(sensation of heaviness or numbness) was achieved at each acupuncture point. The needles were retained for 30 minutes.

Acupuncture Testing Procedures
Laboratory findings used electroencephalography, electromyography, and electrocardiography. This tested respiration, mouth flow, and pulse oximetry with the use of an oximeter. Subjects were chosen for the study from a randomized process. Blinded independent researchers followed four groups: manual acupuncture, electro-acupuncture at 10Hz, electro-acupuncture at 2Hz, control group. The researchers note that the electro-acupuncture was not tested for analgesia but rather for its effects on the lack of motor competence as a result of inflammation and other mechanisms responsible for reducing the activity of airway muscles.

Discussion of Acupuncture and Airflow
The researchers note that the acupuncture points of the neck are of specific interest because they stimulate the genioglossus muscle (secondarily, the mylohyoid muscle) on deep insertion. They note that stimulation of this lingual muscle affects airflow dynamics and may be a key reason as to why acupuncture is effective for improving the symptoms of patients with sleep apnea.


Immediate effect of acupuncture on the sleep pattern of patients with obstructive sleep apnoea
, Anaflávia O Freire, Gisele C M Sugai, Sônia Maria Togeiro, Luiz Eugênio Mello, Sérgio Tufik; Acupunct Med 2010;28:115-119.