Anxiety, Stress and InsomniaPatients often tell me that they feel relaxed after an acupuncture treatment. So one might think that acupuncture could be used helpfully to relax or to relieve anxiety and stress.
In clinical practice I do find that acupuncture can help reduce anxiety and even help patients sleep better. I have to admit that not everyone is helped with acupuncture in this regard, but some certainly are.
A randomised controlled trail of people with chronic anxiety not helped by standard treatments found that weekly acupuncture treatments for 10 weeks resulted in a significant improvement in their anxiety symptoms. A small study found a marked improvement in the quality and length of sleep, accompanied by a reduction in stress, in adults who received acupuncture twice weekly for 5 weeks.
Interestingly, a scientific basis for acupuncture's positive effect was found in this study: those treated with acupuncture were found to have increased levels of melatonin at night. Melatonin is a naturally occurring compound that helps induce sleep and regulate the sleep-wake cycle; body levels of melatonin are naturally higher during the night.
Another study of 48 healthy people aged between 60 and 77 years found that acupuncture was highly effective at improving sleep quality, depression and stress.