Kristen Sparrow, MD Acupuncture
Ancient Medicine Made Modern
October 2015 
Sleep Is Key for Your Health

This issue has provides tips new and old  you so you can get good night's sleep.  Sleep is one of the crucial  pillars of good health, good looks and good mood, so I want to make sure you have that foundation going for you.
SF City Sights: Vallejo Street Beauty

Practice and Research News

Clinical Cases
  • Reducing  stress, by any means, improves immunity. Stress reduction acupuncture is no exception.  My research is focused on capturing and evoking a healing shift.  The nuanced type of stress monitoring I use can capture subtle changes in the nervous system. For those interested in my ongoing investigation, I  illustrate the process  in these two cases.  One patient had decisive improvement, and the other did not.  You can actually see the difference in their stress level profiles.  I want everyone to get better every single time, which is the reason  I study the response in such minute detail.
  • Cluster headaches can be debilitating.  This case represents a young man who benefited from Acupuncture treatment at the clinic, and his stress profiles went way down, too.

I will presenting at the Society for Acupuncture Research meeting in November at Harvard and hope to have some interesting findings to discuss.

Sleep Tips and Tricks

(Of course , I need to start with Acupuncture and how it can help with insomnia.)
  •   A recent study verified that Acupuncture helped sleep quality dramatically in an elderly population group "Acupuncture was highly effective for improving sleep quality (-53.23%), depression (-48.41%), and stress (-25.46%;).  This might be even more important since good quality sleep helps mitigate  Alzheimer's.
  • Here is a link to my publication last year in Alternative and Complementary Therapies on Acupuncture and Sleep Disorders.
  • Safe over the counter sleep aids that are tried and true and have been around awhile are Unisom (start with 1/4 tablet.)  And Melatonin, (start with 1/2 of a 1 mg tablet.) They can be taken together if need be, and both should be taken about 1/2 hour before sleep.  If you try these and one or the other work for you sometimes just having them on hand will help you to sleep even without taking them. (A recent study shows that melatonin acts as a potent anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.)
  • Remember that prescription sedatives  are not only dangerous, but also don't give "good quality" sleep as do the above over the counter sleep aids.
  • Some say that B Vitamins (melatonin's building blocks), Calcium and Magnesium, and tryptophan can help you catch some zzz's.

Physical Tweaks:
  • Gentle yoga inversion postures have been shown to calm the nervous system. For example: scoot your hips close to the wall and put your legs on the wall vertically and rest your arms in a goalpost shape. 
  • Most experts recommend  not excercising within a few hours of bedtime.
  • It's very important to start shutting down lights as your bedtime approaches.  If at all possible turn off screens!  The light tells your own melatonin to turn off, so you're less likely to fall asleep.
  • Conversely, if you can get bright light in the middle of the day that helps to balance your melatonin so it's ready to surge at night.
  • An orange night light while getting ready for bed will crank up your melatonin.
  • Keep your feet outside of the covers.  This allows your core temperature to drop and signal your body to start sleeping.
  • Taking a warm bath helps by relaxing you and then cooling off.  This change in body temp can make you sleepier.
Eat right:
There are different theories on eating. 
  •  Magnesium and iron, as found in dark leafy greens, mussels, and whole eggs, help with restless leg syndrome. 
  • Some say a full stomach helps, others say it hurts, so you'll have to experiment there.
Even one beer with dinner can adversely affect sleep, so watch out for that.
In my family, a few of my kids are dependent on white noise makers and they can make for a more solid night sleep.  I, myself, want to hear any noises, so don't use one.
Paper and Pen: 
  • If you wake up thinking of all the things you need to do, have a paper and pen handy to write them down.  Otherwise, you'll keep yourself awake with worry about forgetting them.
  • Some experts advocate writing everything down before you go to bed that you need to do the next day so that your mind is clear and can rest.
Resource from Harvard on the subject if you haven't had quite enough.


Hope to see you soon.  As always, more at the blog.  Live well and be well!



Dr. Kristen Sparrow

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