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Acupuncture for insomnia

On this page

  1. Overview
  2. Symptoms
  3. Causes
  4. Treatment
  5. Research
  6. Factsheet

1. Overview

Insomnia (sleeplessness), is a sleep disorder where people have trouble falling asleep. Insomniacs can suffer greatly with this problem.

2. Symptoms

Symptoms of insomnia include tiredness, irritable, sleep apnea, sleep disturbances, low moods and poor concentration. Total sleep time should be between 7-8 hours per night.

People often toss and turn all night as they struggle to sleep. It can often be better to actually get up and do something allowing the mind to let go of it's built up tension, allowing it to relax, which aids sleep.

3. Causes

In traditional Chinese medicine theory, insomnia is caused by an over-active mind that cannot switch off. This is turn can be caused by stress, a lack of blood, anxiety and excessive heat.

4. Acupuncture for insomnia

Treatment for insomnia normally involves sleeping pills and other medications such as anti-depressants. Melatonin can also help people get to sleep easier.

The ancient Chinese have known for thousands of years that the mind, body and spirit and One. Oriental medicine doesn't just treat the mind, but also the body and spirit to help people sleep efficiency.

Acupuncture treatment can treat insomnia by using specific points to relax people's minds, the nervous system and help them to switch off their mind or at least reduce the level of intense mental activity. Insomniacs fall asleep faster after having treatment with a quicker sleep onset. A lot of my patients with insomnia sleep well after their first session.

As with all health problems it's also important to improve your diet in order to improve the quality of your sleep. For insomnia, increasing levels of blood in the body can have dramatic effects.

5. Research proven benefits

Research has found that accupuncture are significantly more effective than hypnotic drugs, for example benzodiazepines. Long term high quality systematic reviews have shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment for insomnia.

Research has shown the effectiveness of acupuncture in people with sleep problems by:

  • Increasing melatonin levels
  • Stimulating opioid production
  • Improves sleep
  • Increasing blood flow to the brain
  • Increasing relaxation to improve sleep quality
  • Regulating levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, thereby altering the brain's mood chemistry to help to increase relaxation and reduce tension

5. Insomnia factsheet

For further information, read the acupuncture for insomnia factsheet.


He, Q, et al. A clinical trial of treatment of primary insomnia of patients with qi-stagnation constitution by shallow acupuncture combined with ear-acupoint pellet-pressing. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2019 Apr 25;44(4):293-6. doi: 10.13702/j.1000-0607.170614.