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Does Acupuncture Work for Insomnia?

Does Acupuncture Work for Insomnia?


Acupuncture does work for insomnia.

More Info: The benefits and effects of acupuncture surpass improved general health and a better sense of well being. The positive link between acupuncture in curing insomnia is now backed up by concrete scientific studies. Hence, acupuncture is now accepted by the Western medical community as a treatment for specific health disorders, one of them being insomnia.


Acupuncture May Be as Effective for Insomnia as Pharmacological Treatments

Acupuncture as a treatment for insomnia may be just as effective as pharmacological treatments. Doctors when consulted for insomnia by patients often prescribe sedatives, oral hypnotics, tricyclic antidepressants and benzodiazepines. These drugs however have undesirable side effects such as dry mouth, cardiac conduction and urinary retention, among others. Furthermore, they can be subject to abuse.

Specific Benefits of Acupuncture Treatments in Relation to Insomnia

According to a study conducted by Dr. Warren Spence et al, the specific benefits that are attributed to acupuncture treatment for the treatment of insomnia include: the significant nocturnal increase in endogenous melatonin secretion, improvements in polysomnographic measures of sleep onset latency, improvements in arousal index, increase in total sleep time and sleep efficiency in their subjects. Furthermore, it was also found that significant reductions in state and trait anxiety scores of their subjects in the study’s clinical trials. The findings of this study agree with other studies that report the general relaxing effects that acupuncture treatments provide.

Acupuncture for Special Cases of Insomnia

The benefits of acupuncture also benefitted patients who suffered insomnia as a result of being afflicted with Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. HIV sufferers often experience disruption in their sleeping patterns as a result of their disease. Undergoing acupuncture treatments helped alleviate this specific symptom. [PubMed]

Inconsistent Findings

Although there are no contrary findings that explicitly disprove the effectiveness of acupuncture as an insomnia treatment, a study entitled “Acupuncture for Insomnia” conducted by Dr. Daniel KL Cheuk, et al. cautions in reporting that the existing studies available on this subject do not clearly support the use of such treatments.

The study of Dr. Daniel KL Cheuk et al. examined the reports and clinical trials of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, and the Traditional Chinese Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System on the subject of acupuncture as an insomnia treatment. On the whole, Dr. Cheuk’s study found that the existing reports had inconsistent findings on acupuncture’s efficacy.


Remick RA; Progress in Neuro-psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry
Anticholinergic side effects of tricyclic antidepressants and their management
1988; Volume: 12; No:2-3; pp: 225-231

Spence, Warren, Alan Lowe, Colin M. Shapiro, Adam Chen, Leonid Kayumov, Umesh Jain, Martin A. Katzman, Jianhua Shen, and Boris Perelman. “Acupuncture Increases Nocturnal Melatonin Secretion and Reduces Insomnia and Anxiety: A Preliminary Report.” Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 16.2 (2004): 19-28. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. American Psychiatric Press, Inc. Web. 25 Sept. 2010.

Phillips KD; The Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care
Effects of individualized acupuncture on sleep quality in HIV disease
2001; Volume: 12; No: 1; pp: 27-39

Cheuk, DKL, J. Yeung, and K. Chung. “Acupuncture for Insomnia.”He Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 9 (2010). Web. 26 Sept. 2010.

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