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  • Writer's pictureDr. Nicky Rieks, DACM, L.Ac.

Ditch the Zombie Life and Feel Human Again; Sleep Series

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

Sleep Series: Part 1 of 3


Sleep-Deprived Society


Feeling like walking dead? Dragging your way through the day, the week, or the month? Feel as if you could be an extra in a zombie movie, as your dark undereye bags are already top-of-the-line scary? According to the American Sleep Association, you are not alone. Scary sleep statistics: 50 - 70 million American adults have a sleep disorder; 37.9% have unintentionally fallen asleep during the day in the last month; and almost 5% have nodded off or fallen asleep while driving in the preceding month (“Sleep Statistics—Data About Sleep and Sleep Disorders,” n.d.). Sleep disorders can include insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, sleep deprivation, snoring, melatonin issues, night terrors, circadian rhythm disorders, and many others. Some sleep disorders need western medical intervention and should be managed by a medical doctor. However, let us address general sleep issues and discuss how acupuncture and self-care may help you ditch the zombie life and start feeling human again.


How Much Sleep Do We Really

It is important to know that our sleep needs change as we age. Other conditions can also determine how much sleep we need, such as our health, stress, and quality of sleep we currently are getting. The American Sleep Association provides a basic guideline based on age needs alone, which can be used as a starting point to determine your own unique needs. Infants and young children need more sleep than teenagers and adults:


· Adults: 7–9 hours

· Teenagers: 8-10 hours

· Children aged 6-12 years: 9-12 hours

· Children aged 3-5 years: 10 -13 hours (including naps)

· Children ages 1-2 years: 11- 14 hours (including naps)

· Infants 4-12 months of age: 12-16 hours (including naps) (“Sleep Statistics—Data About Sleep and Sleep Disorders,” n.d.)


According to the National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep or poor sleep affected the daily activities of 45% of Americans at least once in the previous week (“Lack of Sleep is Affecting Americans, Finds the National Sleep Foundation | National Sleep Foundation,” n.d.). Many people already sleep the recommended hours per night. Yet 20% of us are not waking up feeling refreshed, and another 35% report poor sleep quality (“Lack of Sleep is Affecting Americans, Finds the National Sleep Foundation | National Sleep Foundation,” n.d.).


Lack of Sleep and the Cost to Our Health

We need sleep to fight infectious diseases

Zombie infections aside, studies show that we are more likely to get sick after exposure to a virus when we do not get quality sleep or enough sleep. And once we get sick, lack of sleep can detrimentally affect our recovery timetable. The Mayo Clinic explains that our immune system releases cytokine proteins that help promote sleep (“Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick? - Mayo Clinic,” n.d.). Lack of sleep can interrupt the production of these protecting proteins, which are needed during times of infections, inflammation, or when we are under stress, and therefore we need sleep to fight infectious diseases (“Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick? - Mayo Clinic,” n.d.). Increased risks to your health from long-term lack of sleep include “…obesity, diabetes, and heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease” (“Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick? - Mayo Clinic,” n.d.). We seem to have a lot of zombies behind the wheel and are putting others at risk. Drowsy driving is associated with nearly 20% of all serious car crash injuries (“Sleep Statistics Reveal The (Shocking) Cost To Our Health And Society,” n.d.).


Sleep and Attitude


Feelings of irritability, being stressed, anxious, sad, angry, mentally exhausted, short-tempered, and frustration are everyday firsthand experiences affecting our mood as a result of a bad night’s sleep. Sixty million people are suffering from insomnia (“Sleep Statistics Reveal The (Shocking) Cost To Our Health And Society,” n.d.). The good news is when our sleep returns to normal, our mood bounces back as well, and we are less likely to be mistaken for a rogue zombie movie extra. Sometimes poor sleep comes first, and then our poor mood follows. Occasionally our feelings, like anxiety or stress, originate first and affect our quality of sleep. Did you know that lack of sleep and depression are connected? Seventy-five percent of depression sufferers also suffer from a lack of sleep (“Sleep Statistics Reveal The (Shocking) Cost To Our Health And Society,” n.d.).


 

References

Acupuncture Relieves Insomnia and Extends Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2019, from https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1550-acupuncture-relieves-insomnia-and-extends-sleep


Grant, L.-E., & Cochrane, S. (2014). Acupuncture for the Mental and Emotional Health of Women Undergoing IVF Treatment: A Comprehensive Review. Australian Journal of Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine, 9(1), 5–12. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=awh&AN=96980653&site=eds-live


Guo, T., Jia, M., Jin, Y., Xu, N., & Peng, T. (2018). Acupuncture for perimenopausal insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis protocol. Medicine, 97(24), e11083. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000011083


Han, J.-S. (2004). Acupuncture and endorphins. Neuroscience Letters, 361(1–3), 258–261. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2003.12.019


Huang, W., Kutner, N., & Bliwise, D. L. (2011). Autonomic activation in insomnia: The case for acupuncture. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: JCSM: Official Publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 7(1), 95–102.


Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick? - Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757


Lack of Sleep is Affecting Americans, Finds the National Sleep Foundation | National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2019, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/lack-sleep-affecting-americans-finds-national-sleep-foundation


Li, S., Yin, P., Yin, X., Bogachko, A., Liang, T., Lao, L., & Xu, S. (2019). Effect of acupuncture on insomnia in menopausal women: A study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 20(1), 308. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-019-3374-8


Maryam Hassanzadeh Bashtian, Robab Latifnejad Roudsari, & Ramin Sadeghi. (2017). Effects of Acupuncture on Anxiety in Infertile Women: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health, (1), 842. https://doi.org/10.22038/jmrh.2016.7949


Scientists pinpoint dosage of melatonin for insomnia. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2019, from MIT News website: http://news.mit.edu/2001/melatonin-1017


6 steps to better sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2019, from Mayo Clinic website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379


Sleep Statistics—Data About Sleep and Sleep Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2019,


Sleep Statistics Reveal The (Shocking) Cost To Our Health And Society. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2019, from https://www.thegoodbody.com/sleep-statistics/


Wang, J.-X., Yang, Y., Song, Y., & Ma, L.-X. (2018). Positive Effect of Acupuncture and Cupping in Infertility Treatment. Medical Acupuncture, 30(2), 96–99. https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2017.1265


Yin, X., Gou, M., Xu, J., Dong, B., Yin, P., Masquelin, F., … Xu, S. (2017). Efficacy and safety of acupuncture treatment on primary insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. Sleep Medicine, 37, 193–200. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2017.02.012



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