Counting sheep?

Danielle Toth

Placing beans on your right wrist with three fingers up signals to the acupuncture point on your wrist, which some believe makes sleep easier to come by.

Credit: Danielle Toth

One sheep.

Two sheep.

Three sheep …

Some nights, it’s difficult to fall asleep no matter how many sheep you count.

And the secret to a good night’s sleep may lie in — a kidney bean.

Readers on reported improvements in their quality of sleep from taping a kidney bean to their inner wrist. This point is between two tendons and can be located by measuring three finger widths from the crease of the wrist. columnists Joe and Terry Graedon said that this pressure point, called the Inner Gate, is normally used in acupuncture to benefit the heart, reduce anxiety and aid in sleep.

Although licensed acupuncturist Linda Corlett has not heard of the treatment, she agreed it could be beneficial.

“It could work,” Corlett said. “The shape of the kidney bean is like the body’s kidney. The water meridians, which are the kidney and bladder, bring calmness and stillness to the body. So the bean could be a symbol of that meridian.”

The meridians, which correspond to the elements earth, air, water and fire, are treated to bring the body back into balance. This will also promote sleep, she said.

The technique could also work because of the color of the bean, she said.

“I could see where a red bean could work,” Corlett said. “Red is a symbol of fire, and the pericardium meridian, where the Inner Gate is located, is associated with the element of fire.”

College students are among the largest group of those afflicted with sleep problems. Fifteen percent of college students reported having consistently poor sleep, according to a 2001 Journal of American College Health survey.

While some college students may be skeptical of this technique, many say they would keep an open mind.

“I have a lot of problems sleeping, so I would definitely try it,” sophomore chemistry major Dan Sedlak said. “I toss and turn up to four hours a night.”

Sophomore nursing major Laura Nedolast agreed.

“I have problems sleeping here on campus,” she said. “My mind just keeps running with things I have to do.”

However, when practicing acupressure techniques at home, Corlett advises students to be careful.

“Don’t press too deep or too hard,” she said. “This could damage the blood vessels and nerves underneath the skin.”

Elderly people should also be careful with pressure because they have more circulation problems, she said.

Contact features reporter Danielle Toth at [email protected].