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Acupuncture For Sleep Issues

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

We all have trouble sleeping on occasion. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people with insomnia is affected by an ability to function during the day.

Insomnia symptoms can last for a few days to months or longer and include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Waking during the night with difficulty trying to fall back asleep

  • Waking up early

Causes for insomnia vary and may include:

  • Medical conditions, such as sleep apnea

  • Mental health disorders, such as anxiety

  • Chronic pain

  • Irregular sleep schedules

  • No known medical, psychiatric, or environmental cause (known as primary insomnia)

While more research needs to be done, there’s some evidence suggesting that acupuncture can help people with insomnia that’s not attributable to any specific cause.


In a small 2017 study, researchers gave traditional acupuncture or sham acupuncture, where needles are not inserted as far into the skin, to 72 people with primary insomnia. Participants were treated 3 times per week for 4 weeks.

Researchers found that acupuncture improved insomnia symptoms, sleep efficiency, and total sleep time during treatment. People’s sleep awakenings and self-rated anxiety also improved significantly 2 and 4 weeks after treatment. (1)

A 2013 double-blind study of 180 people with primary insomnia found that traditional acupuncture was more effective at increasing sleep quality and daytime functioning than sham acupuncture or the sedative medication estazolam. (2)

Sleep Issues and Mental Health

People with anxiety and depression often report issues with sleep. There’s limited research suggesting that acupuncture may help.

A 2020 study of 90 people with depression and insomnia found that 3 weekly sessions of electroacupuncture, a type of acupuncture that uses electric currents, for 8 weeks improved: (3)

  • sleep quality

  • sleep efficiency

  • total sleep time

  • Depression

These improvements were significantly greater when compared with sham or placebo treatment.

There haven’t been large, quality studies on the effects of acupuncture for people with anxiety and insomnia. However, a 2021 review of 20 studies on acupuncture’s effects on anxiety alone found that it improved anxiety symptoms compared with a placebo. (4)

If you suffer from sleep issues and would like to know more click on the get in touch button below. Acupuncture treatment is available in Bethnal Green, London E2, Shoreditch, London E1, Camberwell SE5 and Canary Wharf London E14.



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