Is acupuncture an effective treatment for insomnia? In February the Sleep Education Blog reported on a scientific review of the evidence.
The researchers were from Emory University; they found that acupuncture has potential as an insomnia treatment. But there is only limited evidence to support its use.
A new review from Hong Kong provides another perspective. The review looked at both Chinese and English studies.
Data from 20 studies were analyzed; the studies compared traditional needle acupuncture against “benzodiazepines.” These hypnotic sedatives are one type of medication used to treat insomnia; but newer “nonbenzodiazepines” are more commonly used today.
The majority of the studies concluded that acupuncture was more effective than benzodiazepines. Acupuncture was effective at a rate of 91 percent; the rate for benzodiazepines was only 75 percent.
But like the Emory review, the Hong Kong review also found problems with the research. The studies were poorly designed.
The diagnostic procedures were imprecise; there also were problems with randomization and blinding.
The authors wrote that the study results are “somewhat promising.” But they were unable to make a clear conclusion about the benefits of acupuncture for insomnia.
Contact an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center if you have an ongoing problem with insomnia. Effective treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy and medications.