Did you know that the benefits of acupuncture include improved sleep and cognitive performance? Acupuncture can improve sleep by regulating the sleep-wake cycle, and has a calming effect on the nervous system. Sleep can help college students retain and integrate new information to solve problems on a classroom exam, suggests a research study.
Results show that high performance by university undergraduates on an economics test was preserved after a 12-hour period that included sleep, especially for cognitively-taxing integration problems. In contrast, performance declined after 12 hours of wakefulness and after a longer delay of one week.
According to the authors, learned information is often replayed during sleep. This reactivation of learning information may help to consolidate, or stabilize, memories. “Our findings demonstrate the importance of sleep to the ability to flexibly combine distinct concepts to solve novel problems,” says lead author Michael Scullin, a doctoral candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. “This ability is critical to classroom learning.”
The study involved 102 undergraduates who had never taken an economics course. They completed a lecture and were tested on the material either immediately, after a 12-hour period that included sleep, after 12 hours without sleep, or after one week. The test included problems they had been trained to solve as well as “transfer” problems that required them to integrate their knowledge to solve novel problems.
“The most surprising finding of our study was that sleep, relative to an equal-length wake interval, benefited performance on the novel, ‘transfer’ integration problems without affecting performance on the basic, trained problems,” said Scullin.
People with sleep disorders may have difficulty falling or staying asleep, obstructed breathing or inability to wake up and fall asleep at regular times. The benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of sleep disorders include:
- Deeper breathing
- Decrease in stress
- Better sleeping patterns
- Reduction in pain that can cause sleep difficulties
For people hesitant to take medication, acupuncture is a safe, drug-free alternative for the treatment of sleep disorders and can be utilized as a primary or complementary therapy. Your acupuncture physician may recommend herbal medicine, relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes to improve your specific sleep pattern irregularities.