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Improving Sleep with Acupressure:
SOMO for self-care

Experience the SOMOsphere, clinically shown to reduce stress, induce calm and invite sleep with gentle pressure to the acupoint between the eyebrows.

Is stress keeping you awake at night?  If so, you’re not alone.  According to the Mayo Clinic, stress is a common cause of insomnia.  Lingering thoughts about work, finances, school, health, or any of life’s events, can produce stress and interrupt sleep.  In fact, in a survey conducted by SOMO, more than 60% of over 200 respondents cited stress and the inability to turn off their brain as the primary causes of their sleeplessness.  What to do?

Unfortunately, cool sheets, weighted masks, and light-blocking alone won’t necessarily erase stressful thoughts from our minds, or bring our anxiety levels down.  For many, the cure lies in over-the-counter supplements and pharmaceuticals, such as melatonin, Zolpidem, or CBD.  But these are rarely free of issues, or noxious side effects (1), that interfere with sleep, work, and even social relationships.

But don’t stress out, because there’s a natural remedy that can both help you relax and improve your sleep quality.  Acupressure is a form of Chinese medicine that was developed over 5000 years ago.  The practice of acupressure is based on a network of energy meridians that course through the entire body, intersecting at specific locations, called acupoints. This may seem a little mystical, but it’s similar to modern trigger point therapy, as well as a current popular treatment method called myofascial anatomy trains.  Perhaps the modern world is simply catching up to our ancient forebears.

Does acupressure produce real benefits?

This is a fair question.  Besides improving the flow of “life energy,” which sounds great in theory, does acupressure actually produce real tangible adaptation?  And to that, the answer is yes.  It has been reported, for instance, that pressure applied to acupoints can induce muscle relaxation and improved blood flow.  Likewise, a study (2) of 36 older patients with hypertension revealed that self-administered acupressure significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Acupressure has also been linked to pain management.  For example, a 2019 (3) study by Murphy and colleagues demonstrated that low back pain decreased approximately 35% in groups self-administering acupressure. Similarly, a group of physical therapy patients being treated for neck pain produced lower pain scores (4) when treated with acupressure than their counterparts to whom TENS (electrotherapy) was administered.  So tangible benefits do arise from acupressure.

But what about stress?

It’s certainly encouraging that we can relax muscles, lower blood pressure, and minimize pain through applied acupressure.  After all, who would reject an opportunity to reduce their back pain?  But it’s still stress that’s keeping us up at night.  So how effective is acupressure at stress relief?  

Imagine the stress and anxiety felt by today’s college students. Honda and colleagues (5) did, and randomly assigned 24 collegiate subjects to an acupressure group (AG) or a control group (CG), and monitored stress over a four-week period, using a valid rating scale.  Stress levels in the AG, after the intervention, were significantly lower than the CG, prompting the authors to conclude that the “self-administration of acupressure can be an effective tool for the self-management of stress.”

Another interesting cohort of stressed-out subjects is people about to undergo surgical procedures.  Patients awaiting surgery are often fearful (6) of the hospital environment, and anxious about unconsciousness and the surgery itself.  In a meta-analysis (large scale review of multiple research studies) conducted by Au, (7), 39 independent research studies cited the positive effects that acupressure had on reducing preoperative anxiety.

The Hall of Impression

Can we consider it a bit ironic that adding pressure subtracts stress?  Even amongst the most anxious people?  There may be a small problem, however, in that there are over 361 (8) unique acupoints on the human body; so which do we choose as our target?

One acupoint that’s consistently mentioned in the scientific and popular literature as a site to reduce stress is the Yin Tang (pronounced yin tong) point, otherwise known as Extra-1 or Hall of Impression.  Clinical studies refer to EX-HN 3.  

Typically, pressure is manually applied to the Yin Tang point for one or two minutes, which has been clinically shown to reduce stress and anxiety.  But in one study (9) conducted at Yale University, the authors chose to apply treatment by affixing an acupressure bead, secured with a tape covering, with no further application of pressure.  The results of this study indicated that of a total of 61 subjects recruited, those receiving constant Yin Tang acupressure had significantly lower state anxiety scores than control subjects who received “sham acupressure.”

Your sleep hygiene habit

If you’re one of the many people affected by stress, to the extent that it prevents you from falling asleep, then try calming your mind with a few moments of applied pressure to the Yin Tang acupoint.  The Yin Tang point is located at the glabella just above the bridge of your nose, between your eyebrows.  To activate it, simply place the tip of your index finger on this point, apply a little pressure, and make small circular motions for one to two minutes.  That’s it!  This simple routine, as part of your evening sleep hygiene regimen, can help reduce your stress, induce a state of relaxation, and improve your overall sleep quality.


  1. Fitzgerald, T. and Vietri, J. (2015).  Residual effects of sleep medications are commonly reported and associated with impaired patient-reported outcomes among insomnia patients in the United States.  Sleep Disorders.  2015: 607148.
  2. Dermawan, A., Setiawati, S., and Maryam, R. (2019).  Self-acupressure to lower blood pressure on older adults with hypertension.  Jurnal Riset Kesehatan. 8(2): 1-4.
  3. Murphy, Susan, Harris, Richard, Keshavarzi, Nahid, and Zick, Suzanna (2019).  Self-administered acupressure for chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled pilot trial.  Pain Medicine  20(12):2588-2597.
  4. Khan, M., Asif, M., Rajput, H., et al. (2017) Effects of acupressure & TENS along with hot pack in neck pain.  Journal of Physical Fitness, Medicine, & Treatment in Sports.  1(1): 1-5.
  5. Honda, Y., Tsuda, A., and Horichi, S. (2012).  Effect of a four-week self-administered acupressure intervention on perceived stress over the past month.  Open Journal of Medical Psychology. 1(3): 20-24.
  6. Valiee, S., Bassampour, SS., Nasrabadi, AN, et al. (2012). Effect of acupressure on preoperative anxiety: a clinical trial.  Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing. 4(August): 259-266.
  7. Au, DW., Tsang, HWH, Ling, PP, et al. (2015).  Effects of acupressure on anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  Acupuncture Medicine.  33: 353-359.
  8. Kim, J. and Kang, D-I. (2014).  Positioning standardized acupuncture points on the whole body based on x-ray computed tomography images.  Medical Acupuncture.  26(1): 40-49.
  9. Wang, S-M., Gaal, D., Maranets, I., et al. (2005).  Acupressure and preoperative parental anxiety: a pilot study.  Anesthesia & Analgesia. 101(3): 666-669.