Insomnia and Acupuncture: A Guide for Patients

It doesn’t occur to many people to link insomnia and acupuncture because they think of acupuncture as primarily for pain. But in fact in Asia, acupuncture is used as a primary or adjunctive therapy for nearly every kind of health issue.

Let’s be clear: Acupuncture insomnia treatment is extremely effective!

Insomnia is a complaint I hear frequently from my patients, often in conjunction with other symptoms such as pain, anxiety, depression or other chronic health condition. Along with pain, sleeplessness is one of the most debilitating and de-moralizing symptoms one can experience.

But there is hope. Acupuncture treatment almost always improves insomnia symptoms in my experience.

Why Does Acupuncture Work for Insomnia?

Studies have found that acupuncture increases certain central nervous system hormones ( such as beta-endorphins, serotonin, ACTH, and noradrenaline) and urinary levels of MHPG-sulfate, an adrenergic metabolite inversely related to the severity of illness in schizophrenics.

This may explain why there is such a positive association between insomnia and acupuncture therapy in research studies.

In a study conducted at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, researchers found acupuncture to be an effective treatment for anxiety and insomnia.

The researchers wrote that five weeks of acupuncture treatment was associated with a significant nocturnal increase in endogenous melatonin secretion and significant improvements in polysomnographic measures of sleep onset latency, arousal index, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency. Significant reductions in anxiety scores were also found. “These objective findings are consistent with clinical reports of acupuncture’s relaxant effects,” they concluded.

Other studies have confirmed that acupuncture treatment normalizes melatonin production for insomniacs.

Insomnia Research:
A Review of the Acupuncture Studies

Kalavapalli and Singareddy, researchers at Penn State University College of Medicine, conducted a review of studies for acupuncture and insomnia. They concluded in a paper published in thejournal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice: “Despite the limitations of the reviewed studies, all of them consistently indicate significant improvement in insomnia with acupuncture.”

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