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Category Archives: Insomnia
A small study undertaken by researchers at a hospital in Taiwan suggests acupuncture could be used as an alternative to the drug zolpidem. A total of 33 patients with insomnia were randomly allocated to receive either weekly acupuncture sessions (19 patients), or 10mg zolpidem (14 patients), over four weeks. At the end of the treatment period, both groups exhibited significant improvements.
(A Comparison between Acupuncture versus Zolpidem in the Treatment of Primary Insomnia. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, September 2012.)
The beneficial effects of acupuncture for insomnia in relation to sleep quality and daytime social functioning, have been backed up by the results of electronically monitoring patients’ cyclical sleep patterns.
Forty-seven patients with chronic insomnia, received four courses of electroacupuncture treatment. Patients themselves reported on various aspects of the quality of their sleep, whilst polysomnogram measurements were used to objectively assess the cyclical stages of their sleep. Electroacupuncture was found to not only improve sleep quality and daytime social functioning, but also to exert a repairing effect on disrupted sleep continuity. Furthermore, it prolonged slow wave sleep time, and rapid eye movement sleep time.
(Electroacupuncture Treatment of Chronic Insomniacs. Chinese Med Journal (Engl) Dec 2009.)
Researchers have found that acupuncture is able to assist with the problem of post-stroke insomnia, and it does so by reducing hyperactivity in the sympathetic nervous system.
Fifty-two hospitalised stroke patients with insomnia, were randomly assigned to receive either real acupuncture for three days, or sham acupuncture as a control. There was greater improvement in the group receiving real acupuncture, but additionally, measures of autonomic nervous system functioning (blood pressure and heart rate variability) suggested that sympathetic nervous system hyperactivity was reduced in the real acupuncture group.
(Intradermal Acupuncture on Shen-men and Nei-kuan Acupoints Improves Insomnia in Stroke Patients by Reducing the Sympathetic Nervous System Activity: A Randomised Clinical Trial. American Journal of Chinese Medicine 2009.)
Researchers in Hong Kong have carried out a systematic review of twenty randomised controlled trials investigating the effects of acupuncture for insomnia. The majority of trials concluded that traditional acupuncture was significantly more effective for helping insomnia, than benzodiazepines, the mean effective rates being 91% and 75% respectively.
The authors conclude that acupuncture looks a promising intervention but methodological shortcomings in the studies reviewed mean the need now for large scale, high-quality trials.
(Traditional Needle Acupuncture Treatment for Insomnia: A Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Trials. Sleep Medicine, August 2009.)