You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘insomnia’ category.

Craving ZZZS? The right points can help with insomnia.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1117168&dest=-1]

This is part of Elephant Pharmacy’s Share the Wellth program.  To leave a comment or a question about this tip, click here.

See more videos.

Advertisements
Name: Great Surge (Liver 3)

This point is on the top of your foot and helps address fatigue, headaches, insomnia related to “busy mind”, hangovers, eye issues (swelling, pain) and alleviates pain. It’s also helpful in energizing.  Some people feel a “great surge” of energy move from their feet, up their legs and bodies; hence the name.

Location: This point is on the top of your foot, in the “valley” at the point where your big toe and second toe bones meet, above the arch of your foot.  See where the dot is on the photo below.  (If you’re familiar with the Hoku point on the hand, you can think of this as the similar point on your foot.)
liverTop
As with all acupressure points except the ones that run down the center of your body, this point is bilateral, which means it’s found on both feet.

To hold: There are several ways you can do this.  It’s important that you are comfortable in your shoulders and arms, so experiment with different ways to hold the point, and see what is most comfortable.

You can sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, and bend down to reach the top of your foot with your index or middle finger.  Firmly press on the point with a steady pressure.  Hold first for 10 seconds or so, and then work up to a minute as long as it is comfortable.  As with holding all acupressure points, take deep slow breaths as you hold the point.

I find that it can be easier to hold this point by “sandwiching” it between one finger to top of my foot, and another underneath.  See the photos below where I use my thumb on top in one case; the index finger on top in another.

liver32    liver3 3

Often, this point can be tender; if it is, release the pressure if it is too uncomfortable.  This point, too, can take a lot of pressure, so experiment with different degrees of pressure. 

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

LOVE YOUR TOES! 

I say this to my clients and students often.  Why? Because our feet work so hard for us, and are often neglected, as so much swirls around our heads.  Love your toes and ground yourself.

If you’re having a hard time sleeping because your mind’s racing, spend some time rubbing, squeezing and massaging your toes and feet before you go to sleep.  Do this yourself, or ask your partner to do this for you.  Even a few minutes will feel wonderful.

I haven’t liked my toes or my feet much; my feet are flat and not cute in the dance shoes that I wish I could wear.  But that changed with yoga.  Now I spend a lot of time looking at my toes, and they’re kind of cute! 

So, one way I love my toes is to dress them up once in a while with nail polish.  But I’ve been reluctant to do this too much because the nail polish and nail polish removers are gross.  They smell like chemicals and unhealthy.  Forget about going into a nail salon! 

I finally did something about this. 

Yesterday, I bought non-toxic biodegradable nailpolish remover ($9.99) and a water-based nail polish–desert sunset color ($8.99) from Sun Coat.  (Bought at Real Food Co. in San Francisco, on Polk Street.)  No chemical solvents such as toluene, acetates and alcohol; no pthalates; no formaldehyde.  And no smell!  The conventional nail polish I had on my toenails came off well.  I’ll say it again, No Smell!  I’ll paint my nails again later and will report back.  (My friend told me about another line of healthier nail polish: No Miss Nail Polish.)

PS: Back to a busy mind.  One way to deal with this is to turn it upside down.  Try legs-up-the-wall yoga pose.

Jet lag, uncomfortable hotel beds, hauling around luggage…these are just some of the things we deal with when traveling. Here are some tips for wellness on the road. We’ll cover these and others in the next wellness class, “Travel Better with Acupressure” at Elephant Pharmacy.

Stay Hydrated

Did you know that air on airplanes is dryer than the desert? To improve your experience during and after your flight, drink water before, during and after; one glass per hour. Also, soak in water–a bath, pool, the ocean–as soon as you can after the flight. I took a nice hot bath after a 16-hour journey; I think it helped since I didn’t experience jet lag! Read more tips here.

Acu Point: Inner Gate

This point can help quell a queasy stomach on a turbulent flight or taxi-ride, as well as help relieve insomnia that might be related to feelings of anxiousness. It’s on the inner forearm and easy to hold wherever you are. Read on to learn more about the point.

Grounding Through Routine

When we travel, by definition we are away from home. This can be fun and exciting, but it can also be disconcerting to be away from the grounding foundation of home-base. In Chinese Medicine, routine is associated with the Earth element and the idea of “home”. So next time you travel, consider if there’s part of your home routine that you might take with you–whether it’s your daily morning walk, afternoon coffee break, or bedtime reading.

Name: Inner Gate (Pericardium 6)

This point can be effective for relieving nausea and anxiety. You may be familiar with it because it’s the point used by those motion sickness wrist bands, which are also helpful foP6_pointr women experiencing nausea during pregnancy.

Location: On the inner forearm, about three fingers’ width from the wrist crease.

To hold: Gently cradle your wrist on the palm of the other hand, and lightly press the point with your thumb. You can experiment with the pressure, but a light pressure is usually effective.

P6demoBe sure to relax both arms and shoulders; you can place your hands on a table or your lap to be comfortable. Hold for 30 seconds or so initially, to see how it feels for you. For some people, the feeling of relief is immediate. For others, it can take a while; try 5 minutes. Release gently if you feel any acute pain.

Spring is coming.  You feel like doing something new, like learning some acupressure, right? 

Well, there are only 365 “official” points…

acupressure’s potent pointsFortunately, Michael Gach’s excellent book, Acupressure’s Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments, focuses on a handful of points that are especially effective.   (By the way, Michael is the founder of the Acupressure Institute–where I have studied–in Berkeley, California.)

I always recommend this book to my students as a useful reference book to review information that we cover in classes, and to learn self-acupressure techniques for other discomforts.

The book includes an introduction to acupressure–its history and how it works–then is followed by 42 chapters that each cover common ailments, including allergies, constipation, insomnia, and sinus problems.  Each chapter includes:

  • real-life stories from Michael Gach about success with acupressure in addressing the ailment
  • photos, charts and descriptions of each point and its effectiveness
  • step-by-step exercise instructions

After dinner last night, my friend asked for some advice for her insomnia. She has the kind where it’s hard to get to sleep. (The other kind is where you wake up during the night, and have difficulty falling back asleep. And of course there’s the combination of those two.)

There can be any number of reasons for insomnia, so I did what I always do, which is to learn more about that sleeplessness.

  • Do you have physical discomfort in bed, that could affect your ability to fall asleep?
  • Is you mind busy? Are you thinking lots of thoughts?
  • Are you feeling stressed? Do you have deadlines or other worries?
  • Does this happen every night? When is it not such a problem? When it is worse?
  • What do you typically do before you go to sleep? Do you have a bedtime routine?

My friend said that she thinks her mind is busy with thoughts. So I suggested she try soaking in a bath before going to bed. When our energy is up in our head–with thoughts and worries–the body sometimes gets left out. A hot bath covers your skin all the way down to your toes, and reminds our heads that it’s not all about our minds. The toes want some attention, too. Some of that energy in the head can relax down into the body, helping in overall relaxation.

It turns out that my friend does take a bath. Every night!

She thought a little more, then asked, “What about reading before bed?”

It turns out that my friend reads a variety of material–magazines, novels, non-fiction–in the bathtub.

So her nightly bath ritual may relax her body, but the reading might be stimulating her mind. My suggestion to her was to leave the reading material outside. See what it’s like to let the bath be a blissful bath on its own. And to pay attention to her ability to sleep. I’ll check in with her later.

Bathtime Tools: Even though there’s a wonderul soaking tub in my home, it’s whoafully under-used. So I bought myself a jar of Ahhh…Bath Soak because I love how the aromatherapy helps to calm me, and also gives each bath a specialness boost. I’m not suggesting that you have to buy anything to make your baths more fragrant. But to pay attention to what makes it relaxing and appealing to you.

We’re on the homestretch before Christmas. Even if you’re not actively participating in the shopping/party rush, as my friend told me today, “it’s in the air.”

So for the rest of the week, I want to share some natural wellness tips that are easy and simple, but also very effective.

We’ll start with yoga. I am not a yoga teacher, but I study Anusara Yoga and apply my learnings with my clients and students. I like the Yoga Journal for its articles and online resources. The following description of “legs-up-the-wall” pose and the photo are from The Yoga Journal. legsupthewall

Viparita Karani: Legs-up-the-wall pose (click for detailed directions)

This pose is very calming, and I recommend it to my wellness clients who are suffering from insomnia, often from a “busy mind” that has a difficult time slowing down. Even if you don’t have the props suggested in the Yoga Journal article, five minutes with your legs up as part of your nightly before-sleep ritual can help your sleep. (Please read contraindications below.)

A modification to the pose, if your hamstrings are tight or it’s uncomfortable to keep your legs up, is to bend your knees and put your rest lower legs on the seat of a chair, or on your bed. The goal is to relax and quiet the mind; not to stretch the hamstrings.

Contraindications for this pose from the Yoga Journal:

“Many teachers maintain that Viparita Karani is an inversion, and as such should be avoided during menstruation. Others though recommend the pose even during menstruation. Check with your teacher before performing this pose during menstruation. As with any inversion Viparita Karani should be avoided if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma. With serious neck or back problems only perform this pose with the supervision of an experienced teacher. If your feet begin to tingle during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis”