Acupuncture for Better Sleep

Acupuncture and insomnia

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it difficult for you to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up earlier than you need to. It will often leave you feeling tired and irritable the next day, impacting on your work, home and social life.

Not getting enough sleep is a very common problem in Australia, with over a third of adults reporting that they don’t get enough sleep. And the numbers are going up.

Insomnia is defined as having difficulties with:

  • Sleep initiation – taking longer than 30 minutes to get to sleep
  • Sleep maintenance – being awake through the night for longer than 30-45 minutes
  • Early waking – waking up earlier than you wanted, and you can’t get back to sleep

Not getting enough sleep can easily start affecting you through the day, leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, depression and anxiety, poor attention and memory, tension headaches, and digestive problems.

Insomnia can sometimes be a part of depression or an anxiety or stress condition, but can sometimes just come on its own.

Can acupuncture help with sleep problems?

Yes, acupuncture can help to relieve insomnia and improve your sleep. Acupuncture has been shown in recent research to be an effective treatment for insomnia and sleep disorders. It was shown to make a significant difference in the total time asleep, sleep efficiency, waking less often, as well as levels of anxiety while trying to get to sleep.

It was also found that acupuncture has a better effect than medications in improving the quality of sleep (both benzodiazepine and anti-depressants). 

Benefits of acupuncture for insomnia and sleep disorders

  • Easier to fall asleep
  • Better sleep quality
  • Longer sleep times
  • Waking through the night less often
  • Less anxiety
  • More rested in the morning

What is an acupuncture treatment for insomnia like?

Your acupuncture session will last for about an hour. In the initial appointment I will ask about how all aspects of your sleep problems affect you in your daily life. We’ll go through what a typical night is like for you, and when you have difficulties with getting to sleep, or staying asleep. I’ll also ask about other aspects of your health and lifestyle, and how they may be affecting your quality of sleep.

I’ll then treat you while you’re lying comfortably on the massage table. The needles will be in for about 25-30 minutes after being painlessly inserted. 

Will I sleep better after acupuncture?

Most patients report to me that they sleep better the night after their acupuncture session, though everyone’s experience is different. You get the most benefits from acupuncture in the day or two after treatment, so initially that is when you will see the most change. As you get more treatments though, the benefits from the treatment will last longer and longer. 

Is acupuncture a safe treatment for insomnia?

The acupuncture needles I use are very fine, about as thick as a human hair. You may feel a slight pinch as they go in, but they don’t hurt. Acupuncture is generally a pretty pain free treatment, and has been found to be a safe and effective treatment for insomnia. 

Lachlan McDonald
Lachlan McDonald
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