Last updated on November 12, 2021.
Having trouble falling or staying asleep? Regardless of how often you experience insomnia, acupressure can provide natural relief. Some pressure points can indeed help for a better night, and while acupressure can of course be done by professionals, you can also try stimulating pressure points on your own.
In this practical guide reviewed by William Man Kin Lo 盧文健中醫師, registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Physiotherapist in Hong Kong, you will learn about the science behind using acupressure and discover 5 pressure points to help you sleep better.
What is acupressure?
Acupressure involves using physical touch to stimulate pressure points that correspond to different aspects of physical and mental health.
These pressure points are thought, in acupressure, to be powerfully sensitive parts of the body and applying pressure on them could relieve pain, establish balance, and improve health throughout the body.
It is recommended to go to an appropriately trained practitioner to stimulate pressure points. However, you can also stimulate your own pressure points at home. But if you choose to do it yourself, read on to learn how to do so correctly.
When applying acupressure, relax and breath deeply as you massage the area.
HT7, also called Shen Men (神門穴), which means “the gate of spirit”, is located on the underside of the wrist, just under the bottom of the hand.
To find it, bend the hand forward slightly and look for the crease. Then, apply pressure to the outermost (inner) part of this crease, on the side closest to the pinky finger. Apply gentle pressure for 2-3 minutes or until you feel the Qi moving. Hold the left side first, then the right.
This pressure point is linked to the traditional treatment for disorders such as amnesia, stupor, mania, insomnia, palpitations due to fright, irritability, and chest pain.
KI6, also called Shining Sea (照海穴) or Kidney 6, is well known for treating menopausal conditions such as hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and vaginal dryness; along with menstrual disorders. It also has a strong connection to the heart and throat, and can help in case of heart palpitations, anxiety, difficulty breathing, sore throat, and thyroid conditions.
The point is located on the inside of the foot, directly below the middle of the ankle bone.
Find the tip of your inner ankle bone. Measure 1 cun (the width of your thumb) below this to find a slight groove between two ligaments. Press directly and hold for 2-3 minutes.
This pressure point is located 3 finger breadths below the wrist on the inner forearm in between the two tendons.
To find it, locate the point by turning your hands over so the palm is facing up then apply downward pressure between the two tendons, massaging and stimulating the area for 4-5 seconds. Repeat on your other wrist.
This pressure point is located by feeling for the mastoid (ear) bone and following the groove back to where the neck muscles attach to the skull.
Once you have located this pressure point, use a deep, firm pressure towards the skull to massage and stimulate the area for 4-5 seconds. Clasp your hands together then gently open your palms with your fingers interlocked to form a cup shape, using your thumbs to massage.
EXHN22, also called the Anmian point, Anmian, or Peaceful Sleep (安眠穴) is an extra point which is not located on a meridian.
This pressure point is excellent for insomnia because it anchors the Shen (the mind), so it is believed to be very calming and to promote good sleep. It is used for both restless and interrupted sleep as well as for nightmares and excessive dreaming.
It is located in the depression, at the junction of the skull base and the mastoid process, just below the earlobe.
In order to stimulate both Anmian points simultaneously, apply firm but soft pressure, for a few minutes, with gentle circular motions. You can easily stimulate this point while lying on the back.
Insomnia: when to see a health practitioner
Sleep is crucial for your physical and mental health.
If you are looking for a natural remedy to improve your sleep, 15 minutes of acupressure before going to bed are a great solution.
However, if you are suffering from insomnia for more than a few weeks, make an appointment with a health practitioner, just to rule out any underlying condition that requires treatment.
William Man Kin Lo 盧文健中醫師 is a registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Physiotherapist in Hong Kong. He has worked as a clinician since 2001 and has experience in treating pain conditions with acupuncture. After graduating from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, he studied Chinese Medicine at Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is now the director of the Hong Kong Atlas Chinese Medicine and Physiotherapy Centre, a journal columnist for a local newspapers and faculty member of the Hong Kong St John Ambulance Sports First Aid.