ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Whether it's triggered by the monotone of aninstructor or insufficient rest the night before, students at all agesand grade levels sometimes have trouble staying awake in class.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System have found away to combat the sleepiness and to keep students awake during class,and it doesn't have anything to do with caffeine or high-sugar snacks.
In a study published in the latest issue of the Journal ofAlternative and Complementary Medicine, they report that students in aclass who were taught to self-administer acupressure treatments tostimulation points on their legs, feet, hands and heads were more alertand less fatigued.
"The study showed that a stimulation acupressure regimen leadsto a statistically significant reduction in sleepiness compared to anacupressure treatment that focuses on relaxation," says Richard E.Harris, Ph.D., research investigator in the Division of Rheumatology atthe U-M Medical School's Department of Internal Medicine and aresearcher at the U-M Health System's Chronic Pain and Fatigue ResearchCenter.
"Our finding suggests that acupressure can change alertness inpeople who are in classroom settings for a full day -- which could bevery good news for students who have trouble staying alert at school."
The 39 students who participated in the study were in the OnJob/On Campus executive education program in U-M's School of PublicHealth who were participating in three days of all-day lecture classes.Students were taught how to self-apply acupressure regimens on eitherfive stimulatory points or five relaxation points. The regimensconsisted of light tapping with the fingers, and massaging with thumbsor forefingers.
The class was divided into two groups. One group of studentswas asked to self-administer acupressure to the stimulation points onthe first day, followed by relaxation points on days two and three. Theother group self-administered relaxation for one day, then stimulationfor days two and three. Sleepiness was assessed by the validatedStanford Sleepiness Scale, and students rated their levels ofsleepiness in the morning,before class began and in the late afternoon,at the conclusion of class. Acupressure was administered mid-day duringthe lunch period.
The fact that the stimulation group had significantly lessfatigue than the other group has interesting implications for futurestudies of acupressure, says Harris, who himself is a trainedacupuncturist.
"The idea that acupressure can have effects on human alertnessneeds more study, including research that can examine the scope ofinfluence acupressure can have on alertness and fatigue," Harris says."Ideally, research in the future will help us determine whetheracupressure also can have an impact on performance in the classroom aswell."
Brenda Gillespie, Ph.D., of the Course on Clinical ResearchDesign and Statistical Analysis at the U-M School of Public Health, wasthe senior author. In addition to Harris and Gillespie, authors on thestudy were Joanne Jeter, M.D., Paul Chan, M.D., Peter Higgins, M.D.,Ph.D., Feng-Ming Kong, M.D., Reza Fazel, M.D., and Candace Bramson,M.D., all of the Course on Clinical Research Design and StatisticalAnalysis at the U-M School of Public Health; and Cohort 11 of the U-MClinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis Program.
Harris was supported by the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 11, number 4.
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