Get the Sleep You Need: Treating Insomnia

insomniaInsomnia is the most common sleep complaint among Americans, although it can vary widely from lasting just a night to months to even years. According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, about 30-40% of adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year, and about 10-15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia.

What is Insomnia?

The Mayo Clinic defines insomnia as “a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep. With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life. How much sleep is enough varies from person to person. Most adults need seven to eight hours a night. Many adults experience insomnia at some point, but some people have long-term (chronic) insomnia. Insomnia may be the primary problem, or it may be secondary due to other causes, such as a disease or medication.”


  • Stress, Anxiety, Worry, or Depression.
  • Medical conditions: chronic pain, breathing difficulties, frequent urination, arthritis, cancer, heart failure, lung disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), overactive thyroid, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Change in your environment or work schedule.
  • Poor sleep habits: irregular sleep schedule or stimulating activities before bed.
  • Medications: some antidepressants, heart and blood pressure medications, allergy medications, stimulants (such as Ritalin), and corticosteroids. Many over-the-counter medications contain caffeine or other stimulants.
  • Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. Coffee, tea, cola and other caffeine-containing drinks along with nicotine are stimulants and will keep you awake at night. Alcohol is a sedative that may help you fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes you to awaken in the middle of the night.
  • Eating too much late in the evening. 
  • Age: insomnia is more common as you age.

Self Help:

  • Melatonin. This over-the-counter supplement may help, especially if you are older.
  • Valerian. This dietary supplement has a mildly sedating effect, although it hasn’t been well studied.
  • Acupuncture. See the research below.
  • Yoga. Some studies suggest that the regular practice of yoga can help improve sleep quality, and the risks are limited.
  • Meditation. Several studies suggest that meditation, along with conventional treatment, may help improve sleep.

How Acupuncture Can Help:

Acupuncture is known to help many of the causes listed for insomnia including anxiety, worry, depression and pain (which we have covered in other blogs). Clinical research shows that acupuncture can be effective when compared to and when integrated with western treatment.

In one study, 62 cases with insomnia were randomized into a combined acupuncture and Chinese herbal formula group and a Western medication group (Estazolam).  After a 28-day treatment, the total effective rate in the combined acupuncture and Chinese herb formula group was 96.8%, versus 74.2% in the Western medication group, showing a statistically significant difference (P<0.05). After treatment, the sleep efficiency ratios in both groups were significantly increased (P<0.01, P<0.05), and there was a between-group statistically significant difference (P<0.05). Also, the SDRS scores in both groups were decreased (P<0.01,P<0.01) and there was a between-group statistically significant difference (P<0.01). In addition, the adverse reaction rate in the combined acupuncture and Chinese herb formula group was significantly lower than that in the Western medication group (P<0.05).[i]

In another study, 64 patients with insomnia were randomized into either an acupuncture (three times a week) plus estazolam (nightly) group or a cognitive- behavioral therapy (daily) plus estazolam (nightly) group. Treatment course was 3 weeks and the insomnia severity index (ISI) scores were taken before and after treatment in the both groups. The total effective rate was 86.7% in the acupuncture group and 50% in the behavioral group with statistically significant difference (P < 0.05). The cured rate of 30% in the acupuncture group was significantly higher than 16.7% in the behavioral group (both P < 0.05).[ii]

Wildwood Acupuncture Center has treated thousands of patients with insomnia effectively.  We are a family owned medically based clinic who will work in collaboration with other treatments you are receiving to enhance your treatment results.

Call us today to schedule a consultation: 301-530-5308


[i] Kou, J. Y., Wei, Y., Tong, X., & Yang, L. (2014). Effect of combined acupuncture and Shen Zao An Shen Tang on sleep quality of insomnia patients due to deficiency of the heart and spleen. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science, 12(2), 96-100.

[ii] Badiee Aval Baghyahi, S., Gao, Y., Zhang, X., Badiee Aval Baghsiahy, H. R., & Feghhi, P. (2013). 2784–Comparison the effects of acupuncture and cognitive-behavioral therapies on treating insomnia. European Psychiatry, 28, 1.