Acupuncture for Insomnia

Acupuncture for Insomnia


Multiple studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for insomnia. Acupuncture lessens anxiety, stimulates melatonin production, induces sleep onset, and reduces sleep disruption during the night. All of these effects amount to an overall increase in total sleep time. 

Acupuncture also activates your parasympathetic system which is the part of your nervous system that encourages your body to rest and digest. In some instances, acupuncture is used as a treatment not for insomnia itself, but for pain from other physical conditions that in turn make it difficult to fall asleep at night.

The first step your acupuncturist will take is to try to assess why this may be happening to you at this time and whether they can help.  In some cases you GP will be involved in this assessment process to rule out any serious illness. Lets have a look at the most common causes of insomnia:

Common Causes of Insomnia

Adrenal  and  thyroid  disorders: Adrenal  and  thyroid  glands  are  responsible  for  producing  hormones  that  regulate  energy  levels,  metabolic  rate  and  sleep  onset  and maintenance.

Chronic pain: Chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis are  strong related to sleep disorders as the pain can prevent sleep onset and maintenance.  On that note – sleep deprivation has been found to increase pain sensitivity, leading to a vicious cycle, hence the importance of addressing causes and symptoms. 

Breathing  disorders: Sleep  apnoea  which  is  the  obstruction  of  airways  during  sleep may stop the airflow and cause the individual to wake up, often several times during the night.  Similarly,  inadequate  mouth  breathing,  asthma  and  snoring  may  interrupt  sleep cycles and prevent restorative sleep.   

Poor sleep hygiene: Irregular sleep schedule, stimulating activities (such as strenuous exercise,  smart  phones,  computers  and  TV  exposure,  nicotine,  alcohol,  recreational drugs  and  caffeine  consumption) .  Also an  uncomfortable  sleep  environment may affect circadian rhythm and disturb  sleep quality. 

Protein rich meal too close to bed time: An important raw material for the synthesis of  melatonin in the brain is the amino acid tryptophan. High-protein meals can decrease the  availability of tryptophan because other amino acids compete for absorption.

Imbalances  in  gut  flora: A  very  high  percentage  of  neurotransmitters  (also responsible  for  regulating  sleep  onset  and  maintenance)  is  produced  by  the  good  gut bacteria. Any conditions affecting the gut flora balance such as candida overgrowth and parasite infections may negatively affect neurotransmitters production, directly impacting sleep patterns.

Anxiety: Insomnia is frequently associated with depression and most anxiety disorders. The causes and effects are bidirectional – insomnia can lead to anxiety and depression, whereas chronic insomnia is often a symptom of depression and anxiety disorders


Therefore treatment for insomnia needs to follow a thorough assessment and treatment plan to eradicate as many causative factors as possible.  Acupuncture then works to settle the system back down and allow you to return to a normative sleep pattern.  At Restore our acupuncturists regularly care for patients with insomnia and other related issues such as anxiety and gut issues.  If you are struggling with insomnia book an appointment with us today.

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