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Wide Awake with Acupressure

Nodding off? Recharge with an ancient Chinese practice. The simple healing practice also treats everyday ailments and increases circulation.

It's noon and you're dozing from a string of restless nights. You could head for the coffee machine, but you don't like the jitters caffeine brings on. Here's a thought: A study shows that acupressure can be an effective way to recharge and wake up.

Researchers at the University of Michigan taught 39 students, who had no prior knowledge of acupressure practices, how to self-administer treatment to both stimulation and relaxation points. Over the course of three days of study, the students who practiced self-applied acupressure on stimulation points were less sleepy and more alert, the researchers found.

Developed in China a mere 5,000 years ago, acupressure thrived as a simple healing practice to treat everyday ailments such as headaches, sore muscles, colds and even hangovers. The method involves applying pressure to points throughout the body with your thumbs, fingers, elbows and even feet.

While the primary goal of acupressure is to rid the body of toxins, it also strengthens the immune system, improves blood circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers. In the United States, acupressure is now commonly associated with relieving aches and pains, reducing stress and tension, as well as improving overall well being.

The ideal length of time for treatment is approximately 30 minutes. For each of the five stimulation points mentioned below, pressure should be applied for at least six minutes:

  • The top of the head
  • The top of the back of the neck
  • On the back of the hands (in between the thumb and forefinger)
  • Just below the knees
  • Bottom of the feet—at the center just below the balls of the feet

You can apply pressure by lightly tapping your fingertip on the top of the head. Or, with either your thumb or forefinger, massage in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions just below the knees.

It may take one or two hours for you to feel the effects of treatment. But afterward, you should feel more awake and alert.

However simple and time-tested acupressure is, it's to be avoided if you have a bruise, broken bone, recent surgery or if you are pregnant. If you want to learn more about acupressure treatments, you might do well to speak with a local acupuncturist.

Whether you're in the classroom or in the boardroom, this ancient Chinese practice can recharge you. Rather than grabbing that cup of coffee or can of soda, you can turn to acupressure. It's not only easy to learn, it's completely safe. And you always have all the tools you need—your fingertips.