Acupuncture for Insomnia


After surveying 20,814 individuals, the Great British Sleep Study that ran from 2010 to 2012 found that around 51% of Britons suffer from sleep related problems. Here we discuss acupuncture for insomnia and how it may help.

Although there is no clear-cut understanding of the various factors that contribute to insomnia, within medicine there is a theory that a disruption in the body’s natural circadian rhythm is a contributing factor.  Your circadian rhythm acts as an internal clock governing the timing of hormone production, body temperature, and various other bodily functions that influence sleeping patterns.

Prescription and other over-the-counter drugs may effectively treat the symptom itself (insomnia) but have little effect on the underlying disruption in the body’s natural rhythms.  These medications also may come with a range of side effects.  The case for acupuncture as an effective treatment for insomnia has been made the world over.  According to one clinical study by the University of Maryland Medical Centre in the US, auricular acupuncture, using needles placed at various point in the ear, is effective in reducing symptoms of insomnia in elderly people, who often suffer from insomnia more often.

Also making the case for acupuncture is The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.  They operate according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles which classifies insomnia as an imbalance of the 'Heart' or 'Shen' function. Shen translates as 'Mind' or 'Spirit'. According to TCM, insomnia is treated with traditional acupuncture, without side effects. This form of acupuncture focuses on the root cause or disharmony in the body’s natural balance and rhythm, as opposed to other methods that treat insomnia only on a superficial level.

How does acupuncture for insomnia work?

Acupuncture for insomnia increases the amount of substances that promote sleep and relaxation in the brain. These include substances like melatonin and serotonin, stimulated by a complex series of signals to the brain. According to the British Acupuncture Council, targeting certain trigger points with acupuncture has been shown to affect those areas of the brain that work to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress while promoting relaxation. It also deactivates the analytical function of the brain that plays a big role in the occurrence of insomnia in the first place.

How can you get the most out of your acupuncture for insomnia?

In order to get the most out of your treatment and to increase your chances of success, it is important you realise that acupuncture isn’t magic. Acupuncture interacts with the communication pathways of the body and alters the messages being sent around. It is these physical and mental changes, caused by the acupuncture needles, that enable us to change patterns of behaviour but we are habitual and the older we are and the longer we have been in a specific pattern, the longer it can take to encourage new ones.

Be patient. Remember, the body is not a machine, is it organic and, like a garden, requires tending to.

The chances of your treatment being effective will increase even more when coupled with good practices, such as avoiding stimulants, maintaining a stable sleeping routine and ensuring that your sleeping environment is conducive to a good night’s rest.

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