Insomnia & Sleep Disorders

Acupuncture for Insomnia & Sleep Disorders

Acupuncture for Insomnia & Sleep Disorders

Insomnia symptoms include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, falling back asleep or waking up unusually early. Vivid dreaming, frequent night-time urination and night sweating also affects a person's quality of sleep.

Other common sleep disorders include restless legs syndrome, teeth grinding, loud snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea. Young children are commonly troubled by bed-wetting.

It can help to look into the quality of your sleep if you often wake up with a foggy head and struggle to get going in the mornings.

Insomnia Signs & Symptoms

  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up early
  • Frequent night-time urination
  • Excessive dreaming or nightmares
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Bedwetting in young children

What Does The Research Say?

The following insights are obtained from scientific studies, systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Insomnia.

Scientific References

Browse our collection of scientific research on Insomnia. It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2021, May 24

Efficacy and Safety of Scalp Acupuncture for Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Scalp acupuncture is effective and safe in the treatment of insomnia, which is worthy of clinical application. However, due to the limited number of included literature, the methodology of some studies is slightly low and the quality of literature is slightly poor. In the future, we need to design rigorous, large sample, multiple center randomized controlled study to further verify the conclusion of this study.

Fu-gui Liu, Ai-hua Tan, Chao-qun Peng, Yun-xia Tan, Ming-chao Yao Full Article

Nature and Science of Sleep

2020, Dec 10

Efficacy and Safety of Electroacupuncture for Insomnia Disorder: A Multicenter, Randomized, Assessor-Blinded, Controlled Trial
Nature and Science of Sleep

Ten sessions of electroacupuncture can improve the sleep quality of patients with insomnia without serious adverse effects. Thus, it can be recommended as an effective, safe, and well-tolerated intervention.

Lee B, Kim BK, Kim HJ, Jung IC, Kim AR, Park HJ, Kwon OJ, Lee JH, Kim JH. Full Article


2020, Dec 1

Investigation the effect of jujube seed capsule on sleep quality of postmenopausal women: A double-blind randomized clinical trial
BioMedicine China Medical University

Consumption of the jujube seed capsule had a positive impact on improving the sleep quality of postmenopausal women and could be recommended as a useful herbal medication.

Mahmoudi R, Ansari S, Haghighizadeh MH, Maram NS, Montazeri S. Full Article

Complementary Therapies in Medicine

2020, Nov 1

The effects of acupuncture versus sham/placebo acupuncture for insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Complementary Therapies in Medicine

Based on the outcomes included in this study, the efficacy of acupuncture was superior to that of placebo acupuncture in treating insomnia. Types of acupuncture therapy and placebo may underestimate the efficacy of acupuncture in different ways.

Zhang J, He Y, Huang X, Liu Y, Yu H Full Article

Nature and Science of Sleep

2020, May 13

Effect of Acupuncture on Pregnancy-Related Insomnia and Melatonin: A Single-Blinded, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial
Nature and Science of Sleep

Acupuncture was shown to significantly improve the sleep quality in pregnant women, possibly through increasing melatonin secretion, and could be recommended as a low-cost and low-risk alternative treatment to pharmacological therapies.

Foroughinia S, Hessami K, Asadi N, Foroughinia L, Hadianfard M, Hajihosseini A, Pirasteh N, Vossoughi M, Vafaei H, Faraji A, Kasraeian M, Doroudchi M, Rafiee Monjezi M, Roozmeh S, Bazrafshan K. Full Article

BioMed Research International

2020, Mar 6

Acupuncture for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
BioMed Research International

Acupuncture therapy is effective for OSA patients in reducing AHI and ESS and in improving the LSaO2 of various severities, especially in moderate and severe OSA patients. High-quality trials are urgently needed.

Liaoyao Wang, Jia Xu, Yijun Zhan, Jian Pei Full Article

Annals of Palliative Medicine

2020, Jan

Placebo effect of acupuncture on insomnia: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Annals of Palliative Medicine

Compared to the sham groups, acupuncture significantly decreased the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score. In addition, a significant difference was detected in the change of Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) scores between acupuncture and sham acupuncture. The authors concluded that acupuncture treatment of insomnia is efficacious, not because of its placebo effect.

Liu C, Xi H, Wu W, Wang X, Qin S, Zhao Y, Zheng S, Wan Q, Xu L. Full Article

Integrative Medicine Research

2019, Sep

Acupuncture using pattern-identification for the treatment of insomnia disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Integrative Medicine Research Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine

Acupuncture using pattern identification led to significantly improved total effectiveness rate compared to medication. With regard to PSQI, as compared to the control group, acupuncture using pattern identification was similar to medication. However, this study has limitations of high risk of bias, not using a standardized pattern-diagnosis-treatment and not comparing with standarized acupuncture without pattern identification.

Sang-Ho Kim, Jin-Hyung Jeong, Jung-Hw Lim, Bo-Kyung Kim Full Article


2019, Jun

Acupuncture for perimenopausal insomnia

Guo T, Jia M, Jin Y, Xu N, Peng T. Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2019, Jun 24

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain-Related Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Acupuncture therapy is an effective and safe treatment for CPRI, and this treatment can be recommended for the management of patients with CPRI. Due to the low quality and small sample size of the included studies, more rigorously designed RCTs with high quality and large sample size are recommended in future.

Fushui Liu, Jianyu You, Qi Li, Ting Fang, Mei Chen, Nana Tang, Xiaojun Yan Full Article

Disability and Rehabilitation

2018, Mar 21

Non-pharmacological interventions for restless legs syndrome: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials
Disability and Rehabilitation

The current management of restless leg syndrome is primarily pharmacological, and medications can have unwanted side effects. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, exercise, compression devices, counterstrain manipulation, infrared therapy, and standard acupuncture may reduce restless leg syndrome severity. Vibration pads, cryotherapy, yoga, compression devices, and acupuncture may improve some sleep-related outcomes in restless leg syndrome.

Harrison EG, Keating JL, Morgan PE. Full Article


2018, Feb 23

Acupuncture for adults with overactive bladder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

The combined results showed that electroacupuncture (EA) may be more effective than sham electroacupuncture (sham EA) in improving the 24-hour nocturia episodes and EA may enhance tolterodine for relieving voiding symptoms and enhancing patients’ quality of life. Acupuncture might have effect in decreasing the number of micturition episodes, incontinence episodes, and nocturia episodes.

Zhao Y, Zhou J, Mo Q, Wang Y, Yu J, Liu Z. Full Article

Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies

2017, Oct

Evaluation of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Restless Legs Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies Medical Association of Pharmacopuncture Institute

Based on the findings of the present study, acupuncture plus a low dose of gabapentin (300 mg/d) is clinically useful in the treatment of restless legs syndrome during 8 weeks follow up, and also has an additive therapeutic effect over gabapentin alone in patients with restless legs syndrome.

Gholam Reza Raissi, Bijan Forogh, Tannaz Ahadi, Samaneh Ghahramanpoori, Pouya Ghaboussi, Simin Sajadi Full Article

Journal of Physics Conference Series

2017, Aug 30

The effect of acupuncture treatment for insomnia in chronic hemodialysis patients
Journal of Physics Conference Series

Acupuncture treatment effectively improved the quality of sleep and the quality of life for these chronic hemodialysis patients.

J A Widjaja, C Simadibrata, A Srilestari, M B H Marbun Full Article

Sleep Medicine Reviews

2017, Jun 19

Complementary and alternative therapies for restless legs syndrome: An evidence-based systematic review
Sleep Medicine Reviews

The severity of primary RLS symptoms can be significantly ameliorated by exercise training, transcutaneous spinal direct current stimulation, pneumatic compression devices, light therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and acupuncture.

Xu XM, Liu Y, Jia SY, Dong MX, Cao D, Wei YD. Full Article

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies

2016, Jul 19

Acupuncture for insomnia after stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies

This clinical article showed high efficacy of acupuncture in treating insomnia post-stroke. Patients mainly experienced hyperactivities of sympathetic nervous system which resulted in disturb sleep patterns. Acupuncture reduced other post-stroke insomnia symptoms such as anxiety, depression and side effects from antipsychotic drugs. It was effective improving overall quality of sleep and lifestyle.

Lee, SH., Lim, S.M. Full Article

Complementary Therapies in Medicine

2016, Jun

A systematic review of acupuncture for sleep quality in people with insomnia
Complementary Therapies in Medicine

Acupuncture compared to sham/placebo and pharmacotherapy showed statistically significant results. However, the evidence is limited by bias in the included studies and heterogeneity. Well-designed studies are needed to confirm the results identified in this review.

Shergis JL, Ni X, Jackson ML, Zhang AL, Guo X, Li Y, et al Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2016, Apr 4

The Clinical Effect of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Compared to control groups, both MA and EA were more effective in improving AHI and mean SaO2. In addition, MA could further improve apnea index and hypopnea index compared to control.

Zheng-tao Lv, Wen-xiu Jiang, Jun-ming Huang, Jin-ming Zhang, An-min Chen Full Article

Obstetrics & Gynecology

2016, Mar

Acupuncture to Reduce Sleep Disturbances in Perimenopausal and Postmenopausal Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Obstetrics & Gynecology American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

The study highlighted the importance of acupuncture in balancing out sleep patterns and sex hormone levels in women experiencing menopause-related sleep disturbances

Chiu, Hsiao-Yean RN, PhD; Hsieh, Yu-Jung RN, MSN; Tsai, Pei-Shan RN Full Article

Sleep Medicine

2015, Dec

Updated clinical evidence of Chinese herbal medicine for insomnia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Sleep Medicine

Overall, oral CHM used as a monotherapy or as an adjunct to conventional therapies appears safe, and it may improve subjective sleep in people with insomnia. However, the typical effect of CHM for insomnia cannot be determined due to heterogeneity. Further study focusing on individual CHM formula for insomnia is needed. The development of a comparable placebo is also needed to improve the successful blinding in RCTs.

Xiaojia Ni, Johannah Linda Shergis, Xinfeng Guo, Anthony Lin Zhang, Yan Li, Chuanjian Lu, Charlie Changli Xue Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2015, Feb 11

Actigraph Evaluation of Acupuncture for Treating Restless Legs Syndrome
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Standard but not randomized acupuncture reduced the abnormal leg activity of nocturnal activity and early sleep activity. No side effects were observed. The results indicate that standard acupuncture might improve the abnormal leg activity in restless legs syndrome patients and thus is a potentially suitable integrative treatment for long-term use.

Weidong Pan, Mingzhe Wang, Mao Li, Qiudong Wang, Shin Kwak, Wenfei Jiang, Yoshiharu Yamamoto Full Article

International Review of Neurobiology

2013, Jan

Acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia
International Review of Neurobiology

A number of studies have demonstrated that acupuncture may modulate a wide range of neuroendocrinological factors following stimulation of acupoints. Evidence has suggested that the clinical efficacy of acupuncture in treatment of insomnia is potentially mediated by a variety of neurotransmitters including norepinephrine, melatonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid, and β-endorphin.

Kaicun Zhao Full Article

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

2009, Nov

Acupuncture for Treatment of Insomnia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Society for Acupuncture Research

Acupuncture appears to be effective in treatment of insomnia. Meta-analyses showed a beneficial effect of acupuncture compared with no treatment and real acupressure compared with sham acupressure on total scores of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Acupuncture was superior to medications regarding the number of patients with total sleep duration increased for >3 hours. Acupuncture plus medications showed better effect than medications alone on total sleep duration. Similarly, acupuncture plus herbs was significantly better than herbs alone on increase of sleep rates. There were no serious adverse effects with related to acupuncture treatment in the included trials.

Cao H, Pan X, Li H, Liu J. Full Article

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