Acupuncture For Sleep: Does It Help With Insomnia

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Acupuncture For Sleep: Does It Help With Insomnia
Tom Greenspan
December 21, 2022

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Insomnia can be a tough condition to deal with where falling asleep may seem like a challenging task. 

The fatigue, depression, and restlessness that accompany it can hamper your productivity, thereby making you less efficient. As such, most people are actively choosing to get acupuncture therapy for insomnia because they do not want to excessively consume pills to treat this sleep problem. 

In this article, we will be exploring what exactly acupuncture is and its benefits. We will also be diving into how this practice can help you sleep better, and if it is worth getting done if you are looking for an effective treatment of insomnia. 

Let us get started! 

What Is Acupuncture?

In traditional Chinese medicine practices, it is strongly believed that your body has chi (the purest form of energy) flowing within it. Any alteration or disruption in its flow is believed to cause physical discomfort, mental health issues, and sleep problems like insomnia and restless legs syndrome. 

Acupuncture is a method used to deal with this issue. Around 5 to 20 thin, sterile acupuncture needles are placed in 14 specific points of your body during the process to regulate the energy flow by stimulating various muscles and nerves. These needles remain in the specific points for up to 20 minutes before a board certified  acupuncturist removes them.

Furthermore, it is a popular theory that acupuncture treatment works by regulating the body’s natural production of painkillers, such as endorphins. And it is also said to stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory agents in your body, such as adenosine.

With the higher production of such hormones, people who get acupuncture done on their body get pain relief.

Additionally, this procedure is believed to help stimulate the production of sleep hormones such as melatonin. Hence, it helps in improving your sleep quality too.  

By properly applying pressure to these points, professionals help your body to get better blood circulation, muscle and tissue stimulation, and so on. All of these together work to resolve a variety of issues that your body might be facing, such as:

  • Nausea due to medical procedures such as chemotherapy
  • Body pain
  • Headaches 
  • Labor pain and menstrual cramps
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis

Acupuncture is used in western medicinal practices as well. Although it originated in China thousands of years back, it is now used worldwide with the addition of technological developments, such as laser acupuncture treatment and electrical stimulation.   

What Are The Benefits Of Getting Acupuncture?

1. Improved Sleep

Acupuncture can help improve your circadian rhythm, thereby promoting relaxation in your body. It also regulates your serotonin levels, which further helps treat chronic insomnia. It can also help you fall asleep by reducing stress and anxiety as we’ll see in the next point. 

2. Reduced Stress And Anxiety

Mental health disorders can have a variety of underlying causes. Issues such as stress increase as the production of hormones like cortisol goes up. 

Acupuncture points also relieve any emotional or mental distress by naturally reducing the levels of these stress hormones. Additionally, this procedure is believed to increase the production of serotonin in your body. Serotonin is a happy hormone released in your body that maintains the feeling of overall well-being. 

As a result, those who get this treatment done regularly tend to be less stressed and anxious.

3. Gets Rid Of Physical Pain

If you constantly suffer from a variety of physical ailments, such as headaches, migraines, and body pain - then opting for an acupuncture treatment may be one of the best solutions to go for. Since it involves a precise insertion of pressure at specific points of your body, it can help get rid of whatever may be causing the physical pain in the first place. 

For instance, if your pain is due to soreness or improper blood circulation, acupuncture can help you deal with this. According to studies, it also assists in treating back pain, neck pain, and knee pain.  

A few other benefits of of this form of treatment include:

  • Better digestion
  • Higher energy and mental clarity
  • Fewer migraines or headaches
  • No more allergies
  • Improved fertility

Acupuncture For Better Sleep

People who suffer from constant sleep disruptions and acute insomnia find it difficult to settle down on effective treatment options since most of them (like medications) have side effects like allergies. Acupuncture treatment is one of the best alternative methods to medicines in such cases as it doesn’t come with any such side effects.

Sleep issues can occur due to a variety of reasons, be it stress or an underlying sleep disorder. However, it may also be difficult for one to sleep in case he or she is suffering from physical pain. Either way, an acupuncture treatment deals with it all. 

1. Yang Qi And Yin Yi

According to the classic Chinese explanations, the functions that our bodies carry out fall into the category of Yang, while components of our internal system form the Yin. Hence, this culture believes that sleep onset insomnia occurs when the Yang Qi is not able to connect to the Yin Qi. 

As a result, the body becomes almost incapable of relaxing, which is why it is difficult for you to fall asleep. Acupuncture treatment can help you deal with this issue by formulating the connection between Yang Qi and Yin Qi again. 

Similarly, if you constantly wake up early without getting adequate sleep, it might be due to your Yin energy being blocked in the kidneys. By applying a precise amount of firm pressure on a specific region, professionals help people deal with this issue. 

2. Meridian Pathways

There are several acupoints and meridian pathways in our body, and acupuncture on each of them can help you sleep better in numerous ways. Acupoints such as the Vital Diaphragm, Spirit Gate, and Third Eye Point help with sleep disorders by improving your mental health. 

Points such as the Inner Gate, Gate of Consciousness, and Extending Vessel improve sleep quality. They ensure that the chronic pain from physical conditions such as hypertension and digestion issues does not cause you any sleep disorders.   

The remaining acupoints work as a combination of ensuring that both your physical and mental health are up to the mark. Hence, acupuncture for insomnia minimizes any form of discomfort that may occur. 

Additionally, the heart meridian is said to be responsible for the issue of sleep onset insomnia. If you are extremely worried about something, the spleen meridian might get affected and cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. 

Extreme anger and stress can lead to your liver meridian getting distressed, which is why you might be waking up in the first half of the night. If you wake up in the latter half of the night, then the feeling of grief might be affecting your lung meridian. 

A good acupuncture treatment session regulates all these acupoints and meridians. This results in the stimulation of happy hormone production and relief from chronic pain. 

Acupuncture For Sleep Apnea

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can potentially be quite harmful to your well-being and affect your day-time functioning by making you feel drowsy. The disordered breathing patterns while asleep may prevent your body from getting enough oxygen. Frequent snoring and fatigue are some of the symptoms of this condition as well. 

There are several ways through which apnea can be treated, such as making lifestyle changes, surgical processes, medicinal supplements, and so on. However, one of the safest and most convenient options to treat this issue is acupuncture treatment. 

Acupuncture And Sleep Apnea

According to a meta analysis by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, acupuncture treatment has been proven to help with this sleep disorder. For this report, systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials were taken into consideration to figure out whether it is effective in improving sleep efficiency. 

Researchers believe that acupuncture helps people suffering from this disorder by strengthening their tongue muscles. If the tongue muscle is weak, it can move back when you sleep, thereby blocking the airway. 

Routine sessions of acupuncture can help you restore the strength of this muscle, and hence, improve your breathing pattern.

In traditional acupuncture methods, it is strongly believed that energy blocks in regions such as the ear result in these conditions. Several meridians connect to the external ear, which then connects to the central nervous system. 

This is why auricular acupuncture is considered a good treatment method to help treat this sleeping disorder.. 

Studies have also found acupuncture to be a more effective solution for treating sleep apnea as compared to other methods such as CPAP. However, it is important to note that in most cases it works well for people with moderate sleep apnea. 

If you are suffering from a severe phase of this disorder, it is best to combine the treatment with other relevant medical steps, such as complementary and alternative medicine. 

Is Acupuncture Right For You?

Several studies suggest that this traditional Chinese medicine practice can help you treat sleep problems such as insomnia. However, you may wonder whether or not it will work for you. 

While it is not a substitute for a sleep medicine specialist, acupuncture treatments have gone through randomized controlled trials and have been proven to be an effective solution to treat sleep disorders. A licensed acupuncturist can help you get rid of any external factors such as chronic pain that may not be allowing you to sleep. 

Things To Keep In Mind Before Getting Acupuncture For Sleep

1. It May Cause Bruising

Acupuncture treatment is typically a harmless procedure with no side effects whatsoever. However, in some cases, there may be a little bruising in the region where needles are inserted into your body. 

You might also feel a little pain, and in some cases, a small amount of bleeding may be observed after the procedure. It is best to consult a licensed acupuncturist as soon as possible in such cases. 

2. Takes A While To Show Results

While acupuncture treatments have been known to be an effective solution when it comes to treating sleep problems, they do not solve it in one go. You may be required to get multiple sessions of this procedure depending on the severity of your condition. 

It is best to consult a board-certified professional for the same. 

3. Go Prepared

If you are visiting a professional to get acupuncture done on your body for a better good night’s sleep, it is best if you go prepared. For instance, you should have a good meal before you start the session since being on an empty stomach may lead to feeling dizzy during the procedure. 

You should also wear loose clothes. This will help the professional to insert needles precisely in the place where they need to be put in. Further, it will make the overall therapy session easier for you too since it is difficult to feel relaxed in tight clothes. 

4. Find A Good Clinic

Acupuncture for insomnia and other related sleep problems is definitely effective, but only if the professional who is carrying out the procedure knows what he or she is doing. 

Hence, it is best to go for professionals that have a good reputation for this service in your area. You can consider checking out reviews online or asking your friends before visiting a clinic. 


The traditional Chinese medicinal practice of acupuncture is known to help people sleep better by reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety. It also helps reduce physical pain, which in turn, helps people relax better. 

Acupuncture helps treat a variety of sleep disorders such as primary insomnia and sleep apnea. It involves regulating the various acupoints and meridian pathways to ensure that there is sufficient energy flow within your body. Body acupuncture also helps in better blood circulation.