Better than Caffeine?

Will a pinch really perk you up? A recent study finds certain acupressure points can improve alertness.

Long before Starbucks sprang up on every corner, traditional Chinese medicine used acupressure and acupuncture to recharge mental batteries. Now University of Michigan researchers have affirmed the practice, in the first study ever to find that acupressure can boost alertness.

The study enlisted people in a potentially snooze-inducing three-day lecture series. At each lunch break, the volunteers gave themselves one of two acupressure treatments: one thought to invigorate, the other designed to relax. At the end of each day, the people doing the stimulation treatment had more energy than those who did the relaxing one. The alertness treatment involves stimulating five points for three minutes each: the top of the head; the V where the thumb and forefinger connect; the spot below the center of the kneecap; the point beneath the ball of the foot; and the back of the neck at the base of the skull.

If 15 minutes of this might bother your boss, don’t fret. “If you’re only going to use one point, tapping your head is best,” says study author Richard Harris. “Or squeeze the point between your thumb and forefinger.”