Western Acupuncture is a treatment which involves the insertion of very fine needles at key points (also known as Acupuncture points) into the body. An extremely popular complementary therapy in the UK, Acupuncture is undergone by around 3 million people each year. In this article, Breeze Academy explores whether Acupuncture makes you tired.
Does Acupuncture make you tired? Whilst Acupuncture can cause varying effects for different individuals, one of the most common side effects is tiredness. By inserting needles into different areas of the body, Acupuncture helps to induce a parasympathetic response within our nervous system, which allows the body to reach deeper levels of healing. It lowers stress hormones, which in turn causes you to feel more relaxed and sleepy.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of Acupuncture on sleep.
Will I Feel Tired After Acupuncture?
Whilst Acupuncture is known to affect everyone differently, it is quite common for clients to feel tired and lethargic for a few hours following a treatment session. Fatigue is part of the normal healing process and can be a positive sign that Acupuncture is working. Following a treatment session, you should encourage your patient to relax and take it easy for the first 1-3 days. You may also want to encourage them to take a warm, relaxing bath or shower before bedtime. Let’s break down how your client may be feeling after an Acupuncture session:
“Acu-buzzed” is a term used to describe that heavy, sleepy feeling your client may experience during an Acupuncture session and is by far the most enjoyable side effect of Acupuncture treatment. This fuzzy-headed feeling and sense of calm is often a huge relief for individuals who lead busy, stressful lives and don’t get to slow down often. Many patients actually fall asleep or drift in and out of sleep, wavering between sleep, relaxation and a greater sense of clarity.
This is because, by needling certain areas, Acupuncture helps to induce a parasympathetic response within your nervous system, which allows the body to reach deeper levels of healing within. Whilst some of your clients may awaken from your treatment feeling totally rejuvenated and energised, others will feel extremely tired.
On the other hand, some clients will feel totally wiped out after Acupuncture. These are usually the people who have been burning the candle at both ends. Reassure your clients that this is nothing to worry about. In fact, it is very common at the beginning of Acupuncture treatment. It’s true that, often, we power ourselves with pure adrenaline and stress hormones and that once we finally take a moment to stop, the depth of our exhaustion is finally revealed to us. Acupuncture lowers our stress hormones, which allows us to feel our true energy levels during or after the session.
Encourage your clients to welcome the much needed break after Acupuncture, rather than feeling agitated by the need to rest. It’s best to advise patients to take it easy after their first treatment. They should feel like themselves again within a few days. Bear in mind that Acupuncture and herbal medicine can help your clients rebuild their system and energy levels over time, as well as help them to manage stress.
Deep tissue massages can also make some patients tired, learn more with our recent article.
Benefits Of Acupuncture For Sleep
Whilst there is not yet enough research provided to support the fact that Acupuncture is good for sleep, Gary Stanton, a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist says,
‘I consider [Acupuncture ] to be one among several treatment options for a variety of problems. [including] pain and sleep.’
Although more evidence is required, Acupuncture may be a helpful treatment for symptoms of:
A number of recent studies have concluded that Acupuncture is an effective treatment for sleep apnea and agree that it may be a valid substitute for the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. A 2020 review of nine studies involving nearly 600 people found that Acupuncture significantly improved OSA symptoms, ratings of sleepiness and oxygen saturation levels.
To read more, take a look at our article, ‘Can Acupuncture Help Sleep Apnea?’.
Acupuncture is thought to be an effective alternative treatment for insomnia in many clinical trials. However, researchers admit that further investigation is needed to definitively conclude the extent of its efficacy. In small-scale studies, researchers found that Acupuncture was effective in increasing sleep quality and daytime functioning. It also tended to have a knock-on effect of reducing anxiety, which may also contribute to better sleep.
Acupuncture can also help with chronic fatigue. To learn more, take a look at our article, ‘Does Acupuncture Help Chronic Fatigue?’
Acupuncture has a positive effect on alleviating snoring as it helps dilate the client’s airways and encourage normal breathing. This in turn reduces disrupted sleep, improving the overall quality of rest.
Further Side Effects of Acupuncture
On top of feeling tired after Acupuncture, your clients may also feel:
- Strange tingles or feeling ‘phantom needles’ - After the needles are inserted, your client may feel slight tingles in certain areas of their body. Sometimes, certain parts of the body will light up with sensation, even if they’re not being worked on directly.
- Twitching muscles - There are certain trigger points in the body that elicit an involuntary twitch of the muscles when stimulated. For clients, it can feel a little funny or slightly uncomfortable, but the stimulation and subsequent contractions help to release muscle tension and increase circulation. This welcomes fresh blood flow into particular areas, which helps to speed up recovery time and ease pain.
- Emotional - Acupuncture has a way of bringing emotions to the surface for healing. During Acupuncture, as your clients muscles begin to relax and release, and energy begins to move, some individuals feel the need to spontaneously laugh or cry. Encourage your clients not to feel embarrassed about any of these responses, they are perfectly normal and are good for us.
- An increase in bodily awareness - Acupuncture can help patients become more mindful of their body. An Acupuncture practitioner will ask a client to talk through the sensations they are experiencing during the session. This in turn allows them to become more aware of their body.
To summarise, it is completely normal for your clients to feel tired after an Acupuncture session. The fatigue your patient feels is their body telling them that it is depleted and that it needs to rest. Rather than letting your client worry about this common side effect, encourage them to relax and take it easy after an Acupuncture session. Patients should listen to their bodies for a change and welcome the much needed break from the stresses of modern life.
At Breeze Academy, we have a large range of CPD courses available for healthcare practitioners looking to expand their knowledge and practice offerings. Our beginner course covers everything from the commonly used acupoints to effective needling techniques. Also available is our Advanced Skills in Acupuncture course and Acupuncture General Update course. Take a look at our full range of courses if you are interested in specific treatments.
Is Acupuncture a Substitute For Other Medical Treatments?
Acupuncture treatments can be used in conjunction with other treatments. An Acupuncture practitioner may encourage their patients to do physical therapy or home exercises as an adjunct to Acupuncture treatments.
What Will My First Acupuncture Appointment Be Like?
At your first Acupuncture session, your Acupuncture practitioner will ask a series of questions regarding body temperature, pain, digestion, elimination, eyes, ears, energy, sleep patterns and quality of life (spiritually, emotionally and physically).
Where Are Acupuncture Needles Placed?
During an Acupuncture session, the practitioner will choose the Acupuncture points that relate to those areas of concern. Needles will be inserted in Acupuncture points or trigger points on the body. Some common areas include the ears, arms, hands, feet or legs. The placement of needles will relate to the areas of imbalance and how the energy flow needs to be affected.
How Many Acupuncture Needles Are Used?
The number of Acupuncture needles used will vary depending on your specific treatment plan. The Acupuncture practitioner can place as few as two needles or as many as 40, depending on what is being treated and how the energy needs to be directed. Generally, the Acupuncture needles are left in for 20-30 minutes. They can be left in longer, however 20 minutes is generally the length of time it takes for the treatment to complete.