Insomnia is a common condition. The National Sleep Foundation, for example, reports that almost 50% of Americans complain of insomnia occasionally and about 22% have insomnia every night or most nights. Since insomnia erodes the quality of life quickly, causing significant distress and impacting life across all realms, those who suffer from it are apt to seek remedies. What they are often offered is medication. Sleep medications are notorious for their habit forming qualities. Acupuncture, on the other hand, offers a safe and effective alternative to medications in the treatment of insomnia with a success rate of around 90% (1).
Acupuncture increases natural nocturnal melatonin secretion that reduces anxiety and increases sleep hours (2). It also has been proven to be “superior to medications, increasing sleep for 3 hours or more during a sleep cycle. Also, acupuncture plus medications “showed better effect than medications alone on total sleep duration” (3).
Symptoms of Insomnia
The diagnosis of insomnia is usually given after at least 30 days in which one takes 30 minutes or more to fall asleep, and receives only six or fewer hours of sleep for three or more nights a week. Other symptoms of insomnia can include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Awakening too early
- Feeling unrefreshed upon awakening
- Feeling tired and/or sleepy during waking hours
- Mood problems such as irritability, depression or anxiety
- Increased task difficulty with poor concentration and memory
- Increased muscle tension
- Tension headaches
- Worry about sleep
Causes of Insomnia
Some of the common causes of insomnia include:
- Stress and Worry
- Medical conditions–those that cause pain or other discomfort such as acid reflux
- Change in your environment or work schedule
- Poor sleep habits–having a poor sleep environment with noise or lights, for example, or having an irregular sleep schedule
- Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
- Eating too much late in the evening
If you would like to discuss the use of acupuncture for treatment of insomnia or other conditions, you can reach Jeffrey Russell at 502 299-8900. He practices acupuncture in Louisville, KY at Abacus Chinese Medicine. You can read about him and his practice here.
(1) Lin. Acupuncture treatment for insomnia and acupuncture analgesia. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences Volume 49, Issue 2, pages 119–120, May 1995.
(2) Spence, Kayumov, Chen, Lowe, Jain, Katzman, Shen, Perelman, Shapiro. Acupuncture Increases Nocturnal Melatonin Secretion and Reduces Insomnia and Anxiety: A Preliminary Report. Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences, Volume 16 Issue 1, February 2004, 19-28.
(3) Cao, Pan, Li, Liu. Acupuncture for treatment of insomnia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Nov;15(11):1171-86.
Image: The Sleeping Beauty (1921), John Maler Collier