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The Benefits of Acupuncture for Sleep

Acupuncture is known to help induce relaxation, subsequently reducing stress and anxiety. An acupuncturist uses thin needles inserted into your skin at specific body areas. Inserting these needles is thought to stimulate specific points on the body. Acupuncture is an ancient treatment originating in the eastern part of the world. The intent of acupuncture is to treat a number of conditions including headaches, high blood pressure, stress, chronic pain, and allergies.

The first-line treatment for insomnia is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), followed by medications. However, acupuncture may be a good adjunct treatment or treatment to try if nothing else has helped with sleep improvement. The commonly prescribed sleep medications include sedative hypnotics, such as zolpidem and benzodiazepines (Tang & Wang, 2008). However, these medications may cause unfavorable effects such as memory difficulties, tolerance, and addiction. Research studies suggest acupuncture is more effective in improving insomnia than no treatment at all. Studies also show that the combination of acupuncture and other interventions (e.g., medication, CBT-I) appears more effective than one intervention alone (Cao et al., 2009).

Acupuncture may be something you look into if struggling with sleep difficulties, pain, or excess stress. If you do decide to try acupuncture, the risks of complications are generally low. However, it’s best to speak with your doctor first to have them recommend a trusted acupuncture professional.


Cao, H., Pan, X., Li, H., & Liu, J. (2009). Acupuncture for treatment of insomnia: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(11), 1171–1186.

Tang, J. L., & Wang, S. (2008). Clinical evidence. Peking Univ Med Press.1:778–780.

Authored by: Lauren King, PsyD

Licensed Clinical Psycologist, CBT-I Provider

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