Acupressure for Improved Sleep

I honor acupressure as a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine. And I also think of it as a DIY form of acupuncture.  Using self-acupressure, this ancient and powerful medicine is available to everyone.  Does acupuncture improve sleep in all my patients? No, but I’ve seen it help most of them.  And, even more interesting, patients who come with complaints other than sleep often report their sleep has improved after one or more acupuncture treatments.

How does acupuncture translate to acupressure?

Traditional Chinese Medicine sees the human body as a map of meridians that run from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet.  Acupuncture points are located strategically on these meridians.  In an acupressure treatment, instead of inserting needles into the acupuncture point, we can use one or more fingers, the palm of the hand, or even a tool, like the non-writing end of a pen. You may want to try them all and see what works for you!

Acupressure Points to Improve Sleep

The photo below illustrates 3 common acupuncture points used to improve sleep quality. The point at the top of the head is an example of a location where using the palm of your hand to cover all 4 points can be more effective than then thumb or index finger.  You can see a demonstration of acupressure for these locations in the video below.

Source: A Manual of Acupuncture, Peter Deadman

Acupressure Practice Basics

If you’ve accepted the invitation to try acupressure, you’ll begin by locating the acupuncture point on your body. Next, apply pressure until it feels achy.  Since you’re not getting the benefit of a needle insertion, the use of this “achy” feeling helps to make the acupressure treatment more effective. It helps to breathe with the pressure. This might look like lightening up slightly on the inbreath and then pressing firmly on the outbreath.  You can also try deeply massaging the point.  Apply pressure to each point for 1 to 2 minutes. After completing your practice, notice how you feel. Repeat as often and frequently as you need!


As with all self-care practices, you can try out acupressure and see how it works for you. Remember to synch your breathing with the pressure you place on the point: slightly less pressure on the inbreath and more pressure on the outbreath. See if you can also make the outbreath longer than the inbreath.  Acupressure is a mind-body practice, so being present and aware – or at least having the intention to do so – will likely improve your experience.  Have fun with this!

The Self-Care Solutions newsletter allows you to personalize your approach to health and wellbeing.  It offers you choices.  Safe choices.  Evidence-based choices. The articles allow you to try on different options and see what works for you. Think of each as an invitation. While not a substitute for care by your medical team, we’re here to support you in your quest for wellbeing!

Acupressure for Sleep



Dr. Ruthann Russo

I love assisting people on their hero’s journey towards self-transformation. A passion which is born comes partly from personal experience – I view my own life as a series of self-transformations. I have 20+ years of education, training and experience, including being the CEO and founder of two health technology start-ups and global wellness consultant to Fortune 100 corporations.

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