Acupuncture for Insomnia

by Nicole Murray L.Ac.

Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at least 3 nights a week. If you suffer from this sleep disorder, you probably awake feeling sluggish, and have some difficulty functioning throughout the day. It can affect your mood, health, and overall quality of life.

This is something we work on a lot at BCA, and with good success. Often, people report better sleep after acupuncture even when it’s not the reason they are coming. How many treatments we recommend depends how severe the problem, and how long it’s been going on. With very severe insomnia that impedes daily living, we often advise people to come daily for at least 3-5 days to start, then we can space the treatments out a bit. For moderate, long-term conditions, we often see people twice a week for a few months.

Acupuncture is highly effective in the treatment of insomnia. In fact, it is “significantly more effective than hypnotic drugs, no treatment, or sham acupuncture,” according to 4 recent studies. The University of Maryland reports that “certain acupuncture procedures have a nearly 90% success rate for the treatment of insomnia… through a complex series of signals to the brain, acupuncture increases the amount of certain substances in the brain, such as serotonin, which promote relaxation and sleep.”

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment may specifically be of benefit in people with insomnia by:
* increasing melatonin at night
* regulating levels of neurotransmitters (like serotonin) to help promote relaxation and sleep promoting normal function of brain tissues increasing blood flow to the brain
* calming the nervous system stimulating opioid production and receptor activity.

National Institutes of Health
University of Maryland Medical Center
British Acupuncture Council
Mayo Clinic

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