Updated: May 18, 2022
Acupuncture and Insomnia
Each night millions of people in the U.S. struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. For some this is only a fleeting problem. But for others, insomnia can become a severe, ongoing struggle with a devastating impact on everyday life.
How common is insomnia among adults?
Here are the numbers: • 30 to 35% have brief symptoms of insomnia. • 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, which lasts less than three months. • 10% have a chronic insomnia disorder, which occurs at least three times per week for at least three months.
Chronic insomnia robs your body and mind of essential downtime to “rest and digest.” It can increase your risk of depression and high blood pressure and can lower your quality of life.
Common symptoms of insomnia include: • Fatigue • Inability to focus or concentrate • Poor memory • Mood disturbance • Daytime sleepiness • Low motivation or energy • Increased errors or accidents
Insomnia also can keep you from performing your best at school or work. One study estimated that an employee with insomnia loses approximately eight days of work performance each year. For the entire U.S. workforce, this adds up to an estimated $63 billion in lost work performance due to insomnia each year.
How do we view “insomnia” in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine?
An old Chinese quote says that “replenishing health with medicine is not as good as replenishing health with diet, but that replenishing health with sleep is the best treatment of all”. In China, acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to assist in recovery from insomnia.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) pays a lot of attention to sleep issues and differentiates between trouble falling sleep, difficulty staying asleep (“light sleep”), and having dream-disturbed sleep, as each is related to an imbalance in a different organ system.
How can acupuncture help?
When a Chinese Medical practitioner is gathering information to put together a treatment plan, the pattern of the sleep disturbance will be taken into consideration. Treatment may include 1) acupuncture, first and foremost, 2) herbal medicine, 3) nutrition or a combination of any of them.
In Chinese Medical theory, night time is Yin, while daytime is Yang. Similar to the idea of circadian rhythms, TCM also respects the rhythm of our bodies throughout the day and night. The Chinese meridian clock is divided into 2-hour sections, each corresponding to an organ system that is at its strongest and rules over the function of the body during this time.
After conducting a thorough evaluation and a complete health history, an acupuncturist will use the information gathered to create a unique treatment plan to address your individual needs and concerns. Once they have identified which organ system or line of energy has become unbalanced, this helps them to find the “root” of your symptoms to treat you more effectively.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are a safe and natural way to treat your insomnia. Acupuncture, herbs, meditation, dietary changes and gentle movement may be offered to you. These natural therapies support the body by nourishing and re-balancing and have no side effects.
 Huang Di Neijing — The Yellow Emporer’s Inner Canon