When you’re tossing and turning and sleep just won’t come, you’ll try anything – fancy pillow sprays, herbal remedies, hypnotherapy apps, desperately ringing up a pal and asking them to tell you a bedtime story.
In these dire situations, it’s worth giving acupressure a go, mostly because it’s free, easy to do, and if it doesn’t work you haven’t lost anything.
And actually, it just might work. Then you’ll get to drift off into rest and everything will be dreamy.
We chatted to Renata Nunes, a physiotherapist, massage therapist, and acupuncturist, who shared her guide to simple acupressure techniques you can do on yourself at home to help you get some sleep.
‘Chinese medicine understands insomnia as disharmony between Yin and Yang,’ Renata explains.
‘The energy between Yin and Yang must be harmonious and must flow into each other in a daily cycle. Yang energy should flow during the day and Yin energy at night.
‘Yang is brilliant energy, the sun, the day, occurs intensely, Yin is passive energy, at night, it occurs in a timid way. Someone with insomnia has a greater Yang tendency than Yin.
‘Treatment must find the balance between Yin and Yang, fire and water. In this case, fire is represented by the heart and water is represented by the kidney.
‘The ideal would be to make an assessment to check the disharmonies of each patient. However, in this time of isolation, we can work with some points to help calm the mind and sleep better.’
Don’t get put off by the Yin and Yang talk – you don’t necessarily need to buy into all of that to see benefits from acupressure techniques.
Ready? Let’s try these.
Acupressure to help you sleep
Yintang – to calm the mind
Apply gentle massage to the Yintang – the point in the centre of the forehead between the eyebrows
Yintang describes the point right between the eyebrows.
Renata says: ‘Make a very gentle massage between the inner ends of the two eyebrows in a circular motion clockwise.
Also you can tap the point with your fingertip.
‘As you apply the pressure allow all the muscles of your forehead to relax. This is a good point to calm the mind and insomnia.’
GV 20 – to dispel negative thoughts
Make circular movements at the point at the top of the head
This is at the top of the head, in the middle of the line that connects the apex of the two ears. You can press the point down and back.
Try making circular movements counterclockwise direction.
Renata says this technique can also help to relieve headaches.
Draw a vertical line from between your ring and pinkie fingers
Applying pressure to this area is said to help relieve insomnia, irritability, and chest pain.
‘Draw a vertical line between your fourth and fifth finger and stop at the crease of the wrist,’ Renata explains. ‘The point is at the height of the wrist crease next to the tendon.
‘You can press the point and make circular movements in a clockwise direction. Also, you can rub the whole wrist.’
Kidney 6 – to nourish kidney Yin
Gently press the spot in the depression below the ankle bone
This is the spot on the inner side of the foot, in the depression below the ankle .
Renata recommends pressing this point, making circular movements in a clockwise direction, and tapping it, to help ‘calm the mind, open the chest, and invigorate the kidney’.