3 Pressure Points That Will Help You Fall Asleep Faster
It’s extremely frustrating when you’ve been restlessly lying in bed trying to count sheep at 3am in hopes you’ll drift off to sleep before your alarm clock goes off.
While tactics such as journaling, meditation, or reading a book can help tire your brain before you switch the lights off, a simple trick to lull you into sleep during those long nights is acupressure.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ritual involves using physical touch to stimulate pressure points that correspond to different aspects of physical and mental health. When these points are used for sleep, it can actually function as an off button for when insomnia kicks in.
Acupressure involves using your fingers - rather than needles used in acupuncture - in particular spots along your skin to stimulate the acupoints that are placed on the meridian lines of the body.
The purpose of acupressure is to regulate energy, known as Qi, by releasing muscle tension, promoting blood circulation, and strengthening immunity. From a TCM perspective, sleep disturbances are a sign that there is internal disharmony in Qi flow and an imbalance of Yin and Yang. Therefore, stimulating Qi flow within the body will restore good health and improve sleep quality.
What the research says about acupressure
Acupressure has been around for centuries however, it’s only recently experts have started researching its effectiveness as a medical treatment - and all results have proven promising.
For example, a study published in the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences found acupressure improved sleep quality at a rate of 22% in menopausal women who were experiencing night attacks and sweats.
Another study published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies concluded that acupressure was helpful for sleep-deprived pregnant women after the participants stimulated the Shen Men (see below) for two weeks.
Furthermore, a 2010 study observed 25 participants in long-term care facilities who had trouble sleeping. Their sleep quality improved after five weeks of acupressure treatment, and the benefits lasted for up to two weeks after they stopped receiving treatment.
While the research is still limited and experts don’t have enough data to make concrete conclusions, there is no evidence showing acupressure decreases sleep quality.
Acupressure can be performed professionally however, it’s simple to stimulate pressure points on your own - here’s how.
3 acupressure points to beat insomnia and promote better sleep
To use a pressure point, apply a gentle but firm enough amount of pressure with your hand, fingers, fist, or massager.
“You can press points with your fingers or a pointed blunt object like the back of a chopstick,” Ko explains. “When the points are located it will feel sore, dull, or achy. Massaging for a few minutes at each point is plenty.”
According to Ko, there are three primary points for calmness and easing anxiety:
1. Yin Tang (Hall of Impression)
Firm pressure applied here helps relieve anxiety, agitation, and insomnia, as well as alleviating pain and headaches.
This is located between the eyebrows, at the point often associated with the ‘third eye’,
Using your index finger, gently massage this point in circular motions for 1-2 minutes.
2. Pericardium 6 (Nei Guan or Inner Gate)
This point is perfect for calming anxiety and promoting deeper sleep.
It is located three finger widths up from the inner wrist crease, between the two thin tendons that run through the middle of the forearm.
Use your thumb or forefinger to press onto this point for two to three minutes. Move your thumb in circular motions while applying pressure. Repeat the process on your other wrist.
3. Heart 7 (Shen Men or Spirit Gate)
This point is associated with quieting your mind, which can help you fall asleep. On top of promoting better sleep, it can also help reduce nausea, fear, and anxiety.
This is located at the crease on your outer wrist below your pinkie.
Apply gentle pressure for two to three minutes, or until you feel the Qi moving. Repeat the process on your other wrist.
Want more like this? Here's how an acupuncturist deals with burnout and stress.