5 Pressure Points for Sleep
Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — Written by Erica Cirino — Updated on May 24, 2018
Insomnia is a fairly common sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Having insomnia prevents many people from getting the seven to nine hours of sleep per night that experts recommend.
Some people experience short periods of insomnia for a few days or weeks, while others have insomnia for months at a time.
Regardless of how often you have insomnia, acupressure may provide some relief. Acupressure involves using physical touch to stimulate pressure points that correspond to different aspects of physical and mental health.
While you can have acupressure done by a professional, you can also try stimulating pressure points on your own. Read on to learn five pressure points you can try and find out more about the science behind using acupressure for sleep.
- Spirit gate
The spirit gate point is located at the crease on your outer wrist, below your pinkie finger.
Feel for the small, hollow space in this area and apply gentle pressure in a circular or up-and-down movement.
Continue for two to three minutes.
Hold the left side of the point with gentle pressure for a few seconds, and then hold the right side.
Repeat on the same area of your other wrist.
Stimulating this pressure point is associated with quieting your mind, which can help you fall asleep.
- Three yin intersection
The three yin intersection point is located on your inner leg, just above your ankle.
Locate the highest point on your ankle.
Count four finger widths up your leg, above your ankle.
Apply deep pressure slightly behind your biggest lower-leg bone (tibia), massaging with circular or up-and-down motions for four to five seconds.
In addition to helping with insomnia, simulating this pressure point can also help with pelvic disorders and menstrual cramps.
Don’t use this pressure point if you’re pregnant, as it’s also associated with inducing labor.
- Bubbling spring
The bubbling spring point is located on the sole of your foot. It’s the small depression that appears just above the middle of your foot when your curl your toes inward.
Lie on your back with your knees bent so you can reach your feet with your hands.
Take one foot in your hand and curl your toes.
Feel for the depression on the sole of your foot.
Apply firm pressure and massage this point for a few minutes using circular or up-and-down motion.
Stimulating this pressure point is believed to ground your energy and induce sleep.
- Inner frontier gate
The inner frontier gate point is found on your inner forearm between two tendons.
Turn your hands over so that your palms are facing up.
Take one hand and count three finger widths down from your wrist crease.
Apply a steady downward pressure between the two tendons in this location.
Use a circular or up-and-down motion to massage the area for four to five seconds.
In addition to helping you sleep, the inner frontier gate point is associated with soothing nausea, stomach pain, and headaches.
- Wind pool
The wind pool point is located on the back of your neck. You can find it by feeling for the mastoid bone behind your ears and following the groove around to where your neck muscles attach to the skull.
Clasp your hands together and gently open your palms with your fingers interlocked to create a cup shape with your hands.
Use your thumbs to apply a deep and firm pressure toward your skull, using circular or up-and-down movements to massage this area for four to five seconds.
Breathe deeply as you massage the area.
Stimulating this pressure point may help to reduce respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, which often interrupt sleep. It’s also associated with reducing stress and calming the mind.
What does the research say?
Acupressure has been around for thousands of years, but experts only recently started to evaluate its effectiveness as a medical treatment. While most of the existing studies about acupressure and sleep are small, their results are promising.
For example, a 2010 study involved 25 participants in long-term care facilities who had trouble sleeping. Their sleep quality improved after five weeks of acupressure treatment. The benefits lasted for up to two weeks after they stopped receiving treatment.
A 2011 study involving 45 postmenopausal women with insomnia had similar results after four weeks of treatment.
There are many studies with similar findings, but they’re all relatively small and limited. As a result, experts don’t have enough high-quality data to draw any concrete conclusions.
However, there’s also no evidence that acupressure decreases sleep quality, so it’s certainly worth trying if you’re interested.
When to see a doctor
Sleep is crucial for your physical and mental health.
Regularly not getting enough sleep is linked to a range of health problems, including:
weakened immune function
decreased cognitive function
If you have insomnia that lasts for more than a few weeks, make an appointment with your doctor. You may have an underlying condition that needs treatment.
The bottom line
Most people deal with insomnia at some point in their lives. If you’re looking for a natural remedy to improve your sleep, try doing acupressure 15 minutes before going to bed.
Just make sure to rule out any underlying causes of long-term insomnia.
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