by Allison Neves

As a travel writer, I find myself in and out of different time zones a handful of times each year. I’ve had my occasional bouts with jet lag and usually, within a day or so, all is right with the world and my internal time clock has acclimated. I’ve never experienced anything major when it comes to sleep issues until a trip to London last winter. During that time, I was stuck in what seemed to be a perpetual limbo of two full weeks of sleepless misery. Ever since that trip, my sleep has been an issue. I thought I had tried EVERYTHING… that is until a friend of mine mentioned acupuncture. I had tried acupuncture treatments in the past for facial rejuvenation and chronic neck pain. Both treatments were successful. But I guess it never occurred to me that this ancient Chinese secret just might be the cure to my current ailment.

In my relentless search for a few good Zzzzzzz’s, I enlisted the help of Byron Russell, a San Francisco-based acupuncturist who was not only enthusiastically referred to me by four different people but was also recently named one of the top three acupuncturists in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Chronicle. So, not too shabby, right?

I met up with Byron in the medical building where his office resides. He filled me in on his background and let me know that he has been in private practice for 10 years. That, along with his calm and thoughtful demeanor, instantly put me at ease. He listened intently while I shared with him all the ins and outs of my sleepless nights and with that he got to work. He checked my pulse, looked under my tongue and proceeded to place the acupuncture needles strategically on my feet, hands, neck, head and ears. Before he left the room he turned on music and told me to just relax. Relax? I’m thinking to myself, “Yeah, right, buddy. I haven’t slept for days and I look like a human pin cushion. Relax? OK, funny guy… Not possible.” About five minutes later I was out cold. After my appointment, I felt calm, relaxed, centered and balanced.

So, why did that work? What happened? Byron explained that, “for conditions such as jet lag or insomnia there is a biological disruption in the body. The body’s internal clock has been kicked out of gear and basically needs help getting back on track. The acupuncture needles are used to stimulate key points within the body and assist in correcting the body’s natural flow of energy. The treatment I use for jetlag comes from the Chinese Zen Qigong tradition; the idea is that the body needs to be connected to the earth and that moving very quickly breaks that connection. So, the treatment is very simple – just reestablish a local connection to the earth, using acupuncture needles in the right spots.” So, it’s basically like losing your cell phone signal in the middle of a call and trying to find the perfect spot to re-connect. Can you hear me now?

In regards to herbal supplements Byron says, “There also are a number of classic herbal formulas for insomnia – many of which are appropriate for jet lag and are easy to carry with you on a trip. Shen Gem is very common and a great general formula to help with the first category of insomnia, blood deficiency. But there are several others and best results come from picking the formula that best suits the individual’s constitution.”

So at the end of the day, acupuncture is definitely not an overnight fix. But, it’s a great alternative and definitely a natural remedy worth looking into. However, my sleep problem seems to be pretty severe. I do continue to see Byron once a week and in addition to my treatments he has suggested daily natural herbal supplements. I do have to admit that not only has my sleep improved but I have more energy. I just feel better. I actually look forward to my appointments each week because I know that I’m doing something good for my body and following a natural and well-tread path to health.

If you are a frequent traveler who regularly suffers from jet lag or if you just want to get a good night’s sleep, acupuncture might be the ticket for you. More information on Byron Russell and his services can be found at

Allison Neveshas more than fifteen years of public relations experience, providing strategic and tactical PR services for a wide range of clients, from actors and musicians to non-profit organizations and high-tech companies. She currently works as the Communications Director for the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which works to prevent avoidable blindness in the U.S. and abroad through public service and education. With parents from San Salvador and Hong Kong, Allison has made a personal commitment to reconnect with her roots by traveling extensively throughout Latin America and Asia. When she’s not trying to save the world one press releases at a time, Allison travels, practices Pilates, scuba dives, and hangs out with best friend and husband, Travis. A past recipient of the Bulldog Reporter’s Award of Excellence for Media Relations and Publicity, Allison has spent the last seven years volunteering as the PR Director for Little Kids Rock, a national non-profit music education program. She currently resides in the historic Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.