Effectiveness of acupuncture for insomnia

auricular acupuncture

Insomnia is a chronic sleep disorder that causes people to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early. It can affect just one night at a time or it can be chronic and last for months on end. Acupuncture has been shown to help people with insomnia fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer than those who did not receive the treatment. In this blog post we will talk about chronic insomnia and primary insomnia, which are two types of insomnia disorders. We will also discuss how acupuncture helps treat these conditions so you can get your much-needed rest!

Insomnia is one of the most common diseases in modern society

The patients had difficulty falling asleep at night or were unable to keep a good sleep after falling asleep, which can lead to early wakeup and short sleeping time, severe insomnia, dreams, poor sleep quality, and working hours following waking up. This can result in tiredness, inefficiency, cognitive deterioration, social isolation, tension and anxiety.

As a result, insomnia is gaining more and more attention. Acupuncture has been shown in numerous studies to be effective in the treatment of sleeplessness. The goal of this research is to assess the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in treating insomnia and to provide up-to-date information for medical use.

Types of insomnia

randomized controlled trial

Sleep, pain and anxiety

Tony Chong, MD, internist and acupuncture specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, says that while there is insufficient evidence that acupuncture cures insomnia, he applies it to patients with sleep problems related to pain or anxiety.

“The potential advantages outweigh the minor risks,” according to Chong. “Acupuncture is proving to be quite beneficial, based on my clinical experiences and informally. Many of my patients have told me that after acupuncture, they feel more at ease, which helps them sleep better for several days.”

General insomnia

Everyone has difficulty sleeping from time to time. If bad sleep affects your ability to function during the day, you may be one of three people suffering from insomnia.

Insomnia symptoms can range from a few days to months or more and include:

randomized controlled trial
  • it’s hard to fall asleep
  • to wake up at night and it’s hard to fall asleep again
  • to wake up early
  • The causes of insomnia can be different and may include:
  • medical conditions such as sleep apnea
  • mental health disorders such as anxiety
  • chronic pain
  • irregular sleep schedule
  • there are no known medical, psychiatric or environmental reasons

Acupuncture is a treatment that Stanton uses in addition to pharmaceuticals like benzodiazepines, which are used to treat sleeplessness. Even if they are taken according on directions, benzodiazepines have been shown to frequently lead to misuse, abuse and addiction. VU.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)A trustworthy source.

“Patients value freedom of choice,” Stanton claims. “Acupuncture is both safe and effective, and it has a considerably lower risk for the patient than drug therapy.”

Acupuncture has been shown to help with obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, and anxiety in a few studies, according to Dr. Stanton.

“In general, the data should not be overstated. It’s typically moderate to modest in size, but it is there,” he adds.

Primary insomnia

While there is a lot more research that needs to be done, there is some evidence that acupuncture can help people with insomnia who do not have an identifiable reason for their sleeplessness.

Many of my patients who struggle with sleeplessness tell me that this works for them.

In a tiny 2017 research of 72 people with primary insomnia, traditional acupuncture or simulated acupuncture in which no needles are placed deep into the skin was tested. Participants were given 3 treatments per week for four weeks.

Acupuncture was more successful at reducing sleep problems, improving sleep quality, and increasing overall sleep duration during treatment, according to a research. Waking up in a dream and self-assessing anxiety also improved significantly 2 and 4 weeks after therapy.

In a 2013 double-blind study of 180 people with primary insomnia, traditional acupuncture was found to be more beneficial in improving sleep quality and daytime job function than simulated acupuncture or the sedative Estazole.

Acupuncture and asleep

auricular acupuncture

Acupuncture has been shown in studies to be an effective treatment for sleeplessness with several limitations. The practitioner inserts a number of thin needles into the skin to stimulate specific points in the body during acupuncture. Acupuncture is used as a non-drug approach to treat a variety of issues, including low back discomfort, neck discomfort, and knee pain.

Acupuncture is becoming increasingly popular as a sleep aid since it has fewer negative effects than medications used to treat sleeplessness and is frequently accessible. Some of the most popular sedatives utilized to treat insomnia can cause a person to become drowsy the next day, have memory loss, or become addicted to the medicine.

Acupuncture was found in one study to improve the quality and duration of sleep when compared to no treatment, medication, or simulated acupuncture. Individual therapy without acupuncture is more successful than conventional therapies and acupuncture in treating sleeplessness.

Using acupuncture for sleep

sleep duration

Acupuncture, which is sometimes referred to as an “alternative” therapy in the United States, is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice that has been around for 3,000 years.

Sowards is a board-certified acupuncturist with more than 15 years of experience practicing Chinese medicine and acupuncture at THE WELL in New York.

“Chinese medicine views the mind, body, and spirit as one interconnected system,” she adds. “It strives to discover the root cause of illness or imbalance and correct it.”

Acupuncture is a treatment that involves inserting needles into specific points on the body’s meridians. Meridians are channels in the human body through which vital energy, or “qi,” travels, according to Chinese medicine.

Myofascial trigger points are essentially knots in our nervous system. They are essentially tight bands of tissue that form where two muscles meet, and they’re made up of dense connective networks thought to be the body’s electrical highway.

Sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which you stop breathing during sleep. This can result in oxygen deprivation late at night, even if you slept through the entire night.

Acupuncture also appeared to significantly improve OSA symptoms, sleepiness assessment, and oxygen saturation levels in nine 2020 Reliable Source studies that included about 600 participants. This was especially true for those with moderate to severe cases of the disease.

A study published in June 2016 by a Reliable Source reached similar findings.

There are studies that indicate the use of acupuncture for sleep apnea, however because to a variety of reasons, I would also say that there is not enough strong evidence.

Insomnia and mental health disorders

traditional chinese medicine

People who are anxious or depressed are more likely to suffer from sleep difficulties. Acupuncture has never been studied in people with anxiety or depression.

The results of a study published in 2020 that involved 90 people with depression and insomnia revealed that electroacupuncture, a variant of acupuncture using electrical current, for 8 weeks improved:

  • sleep quality sleep
  • efficiency
  • total sleep time
  • depression

These benefits were vastly greater than those seen in the control group or placebo.

Although there have been no significant qualitative research on the impact of acupuncture on those with anxiety and insomnia, a reliable source’s 2021 study of 20 research concluded that it aids in the reduction of anxiety symptoms when compared to a placebo.

Related treatments

acupuncture for insomnia points

“Ear Seeds,” acupressure, and reflexology are “all alternative methods of applying pressure and stimuli to acupuncture points,” says Sowards.

  • Acupressure – is a method of applying pressure to acupuncture points along the meridional pathways.
  • Reflexology – is a type of massage in which different pressures are applied to the feet, hands and ears.
  • Ear seeds – are small metal “seeds” that stick to the ear and stimulate certain points on the body.
  • Cupping therapy- involves placing cups on the skin to create suction.
  • Electroacupuncture – is a form of acupuncture using electric current.
  • Cauterization – is the burning at certain points of a small cone or stick of crushed wormwood leaves .

Acupuncture of the auricle is a type of acupuncture performed directly in the ear. “Most often today it is used to treat pain and anxiety,” says Stanton. “Increasingly, there is literature supporting its use in sleep medicine.”

Before acupuncture

If you decide to try acupuncture during sleep, expect:

  • a thorough analysis of the doctor, including Anamnesis
  • about 60 Minutes
  • 20 to 30 needles inserted in different places
  • The doctor can put needles or seeds in the ears
  • The doctor can choose additional therapy with cans or cauterization

According to Soardsards, there are more than 350 acupuncture points on the skin and fascia, which corresponds to 20 meridians. During each 60-minute acupuncture session, 20 to 30 needles are injected into certain places.

Professionals first diagnose the root cause of the client’s problem. For example, they can determine that sleep problems are related to stress. Then they select the acupuncture points corresponding to this diagnosis.

“One point can be used to solve many different problems, so it is important to make an individual diagnosis,” says so.

Stanton usually recommends his patients try 3 to 6 acupuncture sessions. He adds that it often works best in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of therapy that can be aimed at treating the underlying cause of insomnia.

“I’ve had many patients who can stop taking and feel better,” he says.

Pressure points for sleep

chronic insomnia

If acupuncture is not available to you or is not your preference, there are ways to stimulate the acupuncture points used in acupuncture without the use of needles. Chinese Medicine uses massage or pressure on acupuncture points, called acupressure, to restore balance and qi. Acupressure, like acupuncture, has been shown to improve sleep quality.

Acupressure massage can be done by a professional, a partner or you, and if desired, it can be done several times a day. When stimulating acupuncture points, it is recommended to take a comfortable position, relax, take a deep breath and press hard. Here are some pressure points that should help when sleeping or relaxing:

  • Shenmen, “Gate of the Mind” (HT 7): this point is most often used in research on the treatment of insomnia. There are two points of shenmen: one in the wrist and the other in the ear. The Shenmen point on the wrist is located just below the hand on the edge of the little finger.
  • Baihui ,” one hundred appointments “(GB 20, GV20): Baihui is the second most common acupuncture point used in research to treat insomnia. Baihui is located at the highest point of the head, in the middle and at the level of the tips of the ears.
  • Ongongquan, “fountain spring” (K11): at the bottom of the foot, this point is near the center of the sole. If the toes are bent, you can find Y

Acupuncture and acupressure may be a simple and effective alternative or supplement to insomnia treatment used in modern medicine, Moderna medicina, but more research is needed to confirm the current findings. However, acupuncture or self-massage with acupressure may be worth trying if you have exhausted other options.

However, if insomnia persists or you think you have an underlying sleep disorder, make an appointment with your doctor and find the best treatment plan that is right for you.


Is it safe to try?

If acupuncture is performed by a trained and experienced acupuncturist, it is quite safe, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

If acupuncture is not done correctly or the needles are not sterile, there may be a risk of serious side effects. Licensed acupuncturists in the United States are required to use disposable needles, so acupuncture from a licensed professional should minimize the risk of complications.

Some people have mild side effects after an acupuncture session, such as:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • pain or tenderness around the involved areas

It’s also best to avoid acupuncture if you:

  • are pregnant, as some points can induce labor
  • have a pacemaker, which could be affected by the mild electric pulse that’s sometimes used with acupuncture needles
  • take blood thinners or have a bleeding disorder

How do I find an acupuncturist?

If you have decided to do acupuncture, it is important to choose a qualified acupuncturist.

In the United States, the National Certification Commission for acupuncture and Oriental Medicine offers a list of licensed providers.

Licensing requirements vary from state to state. Each state has a department in its health department that oversees and licenses acupuncture practices.

You can also ask your doctor for advice.

Before making an appointment with the family doctor, you should ask him a few questions to determine:

  • how long do you work with clients
  • how much experience do you have with ear acupuncture
  • if you accept insurance or offer a sliding payment system

If you are concerned about pain or discomfort, let them know. They may be able to address your concerns and help you feel more comfortable before the first session.


  1. https://juniperpublishers.com/gjidd/GJIDD.MS.ID.555586.php
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19034253/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31565065/
  4. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/acupuncture-in-depth
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *