What is Acupressure?
Acupressure is an ancient Chinese healing art that has been used for thousands of years to treat and heal a variety of physical and mental conditions. The practice is based on the use of deep massage and applied pressure to pressure points and energy meridians located on specific parts of your body. These points and meridians are believed to correspond to energy imbalances and help restore the normal “life” flow, known as qi in Chinese medicine. Acupressure is thought to help remove toxins, improve circulation, reduce muscle pain and release endorphins, according to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website. LiveStrong.com
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. WiseGeek.com
Sleep Apnea and Acupressure
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by breathing cessation while you sleep. These pauses in your breathing lead to symptoms such as snoring, daytime sleepiness, abrupt awakening accompanied by shortness of breath and headaches, according to the Mayo Clinic. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues such as an increased risk of stroke and other cardiovascular problems. Some evidence shows that certain alternative treatments, including yoga, meditation and acupressure, can improve symptoms of sleep apnea.
The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that a specific type of treatment, known as auriculotherapy acupoint pressure, may provide benefits. Auriculotherapy acupoint pressure can be performed using needles in an acupuncture treatment or using manual pressure, as in an acupressure treatment. This type of treatment involves stimulation of the auricle of the external ear. LiveStrong.com
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. WiseGeek.com
A study published in the October 2003 issue of “Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine” examined the effects of auricular acupoint pressing in 45 patients suffering from sleep apnea. Thirty patients received the treatment, while 15 patients acted as a control group. The group that received the acupressure treatment experienced a significant decrease in clinical symptoms of sleep apnea. The researchers noted these improvements by measuring specific parameters using multiple channel polysomnography, a test frequently used in sleep studies. LiveStrong.com
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. WiseGeek.com
While acupressure may help reduce symptoms of sleep apnea, do not use alternative treatments as a replacement for conventional medical care. Sleep apnea can be a potentially dangerous condition that requires medical intervention to prevent the occurrence of more serious medical issues. Talk to your doctor before using acupressure to treat your condition. LiveStrong.com
PS: The word ‘Acupuncture’ has been referred to a few times in this article. Acupuncture, is a common and very effective alternative treatment that is somewhat similar to Acupressure. Our comprehensive report ‘Cure Your Sleep Apnea with Acupuncture’ covers the subject in detail. Click here to learn more about this amazing, pain-free alternative treatment.