Self-Care for Sleep: Acupressure

No matter what health issues bring a person to our clinic, there are two areas I always address because of their importance to healing and health maintenance: I want everyone to have a healthy appetite with dependable digestion, and regular, good quality sleep. Food provides the energy and nutrients necessary to repair the body and maintain a healthy equilibrium. Proper digestion allows us to gather these resources efficiently and speed the healing process. On the other hand, good quality sleep is the time when our bodies do most of the deep healing, repair, and maintenance. The longer a person is able to remain in a state of restful sleep, the longer their body has to engage in deeper levels of healing and rebuilding.

Chinese medicine recognizes many different physical and energetic imbalances a person might experience that disrupt regular sleep cycles. Our medicine likewise has many ways of treating these disharmonies. No matter what the underlying cause is, however, there are two acupressure points that are appropriate and helpful in almost all occasions of interrupted sleep. We call these two points Kidney 6 (Zhaohai) and Bladder 62 (Shenmai). These two points are easily accessible, lying just below the inner and outer ankles, respectively.

Like many acupuncture/acupressure points, these two points have an array of possible uses, and when used together, they help harmonize the movements of Yin and Yang. In terms of sleep, this means regulating transitions between sleep (Yin cycle) and daily life (Yang cycle). Bladder 62 and Kidney 6 are confluent or opening points of two “extraordinary” meridians, the Yang Qiao and Yin Qiao respectively, that ascend to meet the outer and inner canthus of each eye. The gentle transfer of energy between these two meridians relaxes the eyes, calms the mind, and facilitates sound sleep.

The benefits of these two points can be had through daily acupressure before bedtime. Both Bladder 62 (outer ankle) and Kidney 6 (inner ankle) can be found by locating a tender depression about one inch underneath the tip of the ankle bone (malleolus). Once located, massage both points together by maintaining a firm but painless pressure using your fingertips. Small circular motions may be applied if desired. Massage these points for 3 to 5 minutes on each ankle, stopping early if there is any increased pain. Try this for at least one week, as the effect may be subtle at first. This technique can be very helpful when worked into the nighttime routine, especially when combined with regular acupuncture and appropriate herbal therapy.

Sleep well!

[written by Charles]