What do Acupuncture, Blue light, and Insomnia have in common? I hosted a massage student practicum and this is an eye opening piece written by Kelsey Eigler.
Think about your day right now. Play it through your head. Do you check your phone first thing in the morning? Before you go to bed? Do you work in an office? On a computer? Work out in a gym? Buy groceries from a grocery store? What about after your day is finished and you’re at home. What lights your house? Do you watch TV? If your daily practice includes any of these things, this article is for you.
In very recent years of humanity, it has become “normal” to live in an artificially lit world. But is it beneficial? In some cases yes. For instance, when I am in a grocery store I want to see what bananas I’m choosing! But in many cases, this artificial light may be detrimental to our wellness.
Studies show that fluorescent, LED and evening screen time disrupts the body’s internal clock and hormone production which is linked to insomnia, depression, and inability to lose weight. So what do these lights all have in common? They are all in the blue light spectrum.
Aside from our devices, blue light spectrum is also found in the early morning sun and is what tells our bodies to produce Cortisol, a very beneficial hormone that notifies us to “wake up, it’s go time!”. Cortisol is also important for when we are dealing with stress and prepares the body by releasing a surge of glucose. Glucose then provides an immediate energy source to help you handle the stressor.
So what about modern day stressors in this fast paced world we live? That social media post that you read on your alien-blue light device or a really intense episode of your favourite show before bed? You got it. You’ve just told the body to release that Cortisol, and while it’s quite obvious that a surge of energy isn’t ideal before trying to fall asleep, this alien-light is also blocking our melatonin production.
While cortisol helps us get going, melatonin does quite the opposite. Melatonin is the wind down sleepy time hormone that is designed to be secreted each evening upon decreased sunlight exposure.
What is happening in our modern world is that the receptors in our eyes are constantly flooded with light, even before bedtime, which causes a suppression of melatonin production.
If we are depleted of melatonin, it is almost a guarantee we aren’t getting the proper sleep required for our bodies to regenerate. Without the ability to properly regenerate, our bodies are put under more stress which then leads to higher cortisol production and a constant surge of unused glucose (which is then stored as body fat).
Do you see the cycle?
So, what’s this got to do with acupuncture?
Though acupuncture can’t stop you from shining blue light in your eyes, it is a beautiful modality that can bring your nervous system from firing in the sympathetic (fight or flight) to relaxing in the parasympathetic (rest and digest) very quickly.
A preliminary report in 2004 found that patients who suffer from anxiety and received acupuncture experienced increased melatonin production and total sleep time. They also fell asleep faster, were less aroused at night, and were over all less stressed by the time the 5 month study was finished.
Some other ways to encourage your body’s natural production of melatonin is to simply have a device curfew. A couple hours before bed, no more blue light. Or, if you absolutely must, use a blue light filter on your screens.
Use candles in the house at night time. This is very soothing to the nervous system and provides more of a natural evening light.
Sleep without your phone in the bedroom, or if you must, have it on airplane mode.
Spend more time in the sunshine during the day.
Use a high quality topical magnesium.
So, quick!, how do I help my insomnia?
- Make a strict curfew before bed – reduce screen time and LED light exposure
- Use an alarm clock and keep your devices out of the bedroom.
- Try using candle light before bed.
- Find an acupuncturist to help balance your hormone function to boost melatonin and calm the nervous system.
Click Here to book your acupuncture session today to help stimulate melatonin production and relax your nervous system for amazing rest at night!
Interested in a massage with Kelsey? Contact her here for more information.
Preliminary Report – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14990755
An in depth look into melatonin – http://elliotthealthcare.com/melatonin_deficiency.htm
Blue light influenced cortisol – http://www.bioopticsworld.com/articles/2012/10/blue-light-exposure-boosts-stress-hormone-response-in-sleep-deprived-teens.html
An incredibly knowledgable podcast featuring neurosurgeon Jack kruse – http://www.lukestorey.com/lifestylistpodcast/dr-jack-kruse-surviving-the-city-with-spiritual-science-3