What do you think? how many hours of sleep is good for you? Basically it can vary from one person to another, but most adults need approximately seven to eight hours of sleep every night. In general term, Insomnia is difficulty with sleep. But it can be of many types when we consider all the factors, like finding difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up and not feeling refreshed after long hours of sleep, experiencing fatigue and finding problems in functioning the whole day. Insomnia not only impacts your mood and energy level but also your quality of life, your performance in work and your overall health. Insomnia is of two types- 1. acute or short term which can last up-to a couple of weeks and because of the stress and trauma 2. Chronic which lasts for months. Research studies indicate that it affects around 10 % of the general population and is found little more in young females and elderly people (Dr. Roth).
Chronic types of insomnia maybe associated with certain medical condition or specific drug uses. Treatment can improve the sleep but may retain insomnia in the medical conditions or disorder may help improve sleep, but the insomnia may persist after the medical condition improvement. Other common conditions which are associated with insomnia: Mental health disorders like Anxiety, post-traumatic stress; many prescribed drugs like antidepressants and anti-asthmatic, weight loss products, medicines for allergy and cold; other medical conditions. like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, GERD, thyroid, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Pathophysiology: Insomnia is associated with hyper-arousal experience and exhibits a state of hyper-vigilance and so linked with starting and maintaining a good night's sleep. This type of arousal is explained by various models of insomnia like cognitive model, physiological model and Neuro-physiologic factors. Cognitive model explains and considers about the worry and mental stress. Functional Neuro-imaging and Neuro-endocrine measures along with the variability in the heart rate, metabolic rate of the whole body has been associated with the Physiological arousal. Oxygen consumption (VO2) can be used to measure whole body metabolic rate. Recent studies indicate that insomnia patients generally have higher metabolic rates which are significantly higher than others. Variability in the heart rate can also cater for the measure of arousal which is regulated by the activity in parts of the parasympathetic and sympathetic region of the nervous system (Dr. Jassica).
A clinical study found the increase in average heart rates and variability was found decreased in insomnia patients as compared to normal sleepers. In clinical studies, it was observed that a high level of urinary free cortisol is associated with poor sleepers. Also, Urinary free cortisol levels and catecholamines were found to be positively correlated with wake time, wake time after sleep onset simultaneously. Urinary and plasma levels of cortisol and ACTH indicate the association of HPA axis and the pathology of chronic insomnia. Non-pharmacological treatments with evidence support the use of these therapies in the sleep quality and insomnia. One of these therapies includes Acupressure.
Acupressure as a therapy: Acupressure is a type of massage of certain points on the body which has been used as a treatment of some health conditions and used by the patients since ancient times. In an investigation, it was observed that, patients receiving Acupressure therapy showed reduction in the total score of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (a standard sleep quality). The total scores reduces from 8.7 to 5.57 (almost 36% reduction). The auriculovagal afferent pathway which regulates the Autonomic nervous system is behind the principle of Acupressure therapy and improvement in sleep quality (Dr. Lin).
Acupressure therapy has been used and practiced as a complementary treatment for insomnia for a long time and evidence also provides support regarding the therapy and effectiveness in insomnia patients and people with bad sleep.