October 3, 2012

Acupuncture for Insomnia

There have been 2 research publications recently into the use of Acupuncture for Insomnia, each looking at different aspects of this condition.

Acupuncture improves sleep in post-menopause in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study:

Background Insomnia increases in frequency as women approach and pass through menopause. Studies have not shown acupuncture efficacy for insomnia in post menopausal women. Objectives The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy on sleep parameters, depression symptoms and quality of life in postmenopausal women with insomnia.  Although the study was small scale and (18 women) it was double-blind and placebo-controlled using the WHOQOL-BREFBeck Depression Inventory and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, both of which are regularly used for insomnia trials.

Overall the acupuncture group showed that treatment resulted in significantly lower scores on the Pittsburgh Questionnaire and an improvement in psychological WHOQOL. The acupuncture group had a higher percentage of the N3?+?4 (also called delta sleep or slow-wave sleep) stage than the sham group in PSG findings.

Conclusion Acupuncture was effective in improving reported sleep quality and quality of life in postmenopausal women with insomnia.

For the full text please go to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) web site.


To determine the relative efficacy of acupuncture and zolpidem (also know as Ambien, Ambien CR, Stilnox, and Sublinox) in the treatment of primary insomnia:

This trial was on a small number of patients and used no placebo-control but was a direct comparison of usual care (zolpidem) vs. acupuncture and the study used the  Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index to measure outcomes.

The results were that both groups were found to have improved significantly demonstrating that Acupuncture  might be used as an alternative strategy compared to zolpidem for the treatment of primary insomnia.

For the full text please go to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) web site.


Whilst neither of these studies can be seen as conclusive evidence (far from it) they can be seen as evidence that we need more research into acupuncture in general so we can understand and harness this ancient art in the modern world