Posted by: corneliadavies | August 10, 2018

Why I love it when patients doze off during acupuncture treatment


The fact that people regularly doze during acupuncture might surprise you, but it’s true and it’s great. It’s a bit of relaxing time out for the person on the couch, and it’s good for other reasons, too.

Research scientists know that when we sleep, doze or relax with our minds in a comfortable “neutral” state we actually make cellular repair and create new cells more effectively. On the other hand, when we stay super-alert the mind-body is more involved with awake, “thinky” things, and we make fewer new cells, so bodily repair is slowed down.

This is all fine, as the body is a wonderfully complex piece of equipment with priorities shifting by the second. It’s not unlike how we use and look after machinery. When a machine is in full use we don’t do routine maintenance. Instead, we take our cars to the garage or do “house-keeping” on our computers when we’re not using them for other things.

Most people feel a surprising level of relaxation during treatment. This is because the needles activate microscopic parts of our nervous systems that quieten down conscious activity and step up repair levels. I always think that when this happens people are getting the “nuts and bolts” benefit of the acupuncture, plus the extra bonus of the body shifting gear into automatic maintenance at the same time. This is a win-win situation.

Of course, some people are on high alert all the time, and it’s less likely that they will go “down” into a more relaxed state during treatment. For individual reasons, their body-minds find it necessary to stay vigilant.

This is not a problem, as the nuts and bolts part of treatment will still be active, but the extra bonus will be absent.

I deliberately try to let people have some time alone in the treatment room while the needles are doing their work, so that they have a better chance of going “down” into this lovely level of extra relaxation. However, quite frequently I when I return to the room a patient will say to me, “I nearly dozed off then.” That tells me that the person has forced themselves to stay awake and alert because they think that they should. At times like this I take the opportunity to encourage them to let go next time this happens, and I explain that when they do this they will get the extra bonus of more cellular repair and renewal.

© Cornelia Davies 2018


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