Sleepwise Sleep Clinics and Therapy

Sleepwise provides professional sleep therapy services and advice, including clinics, one-to-one appointments, self-help products, CDs, articles and free products. Keywords: sleep clinic, sleep apnea, pure sleep, sleep experts, sleep depot, sit and sleep, sleep matters, sleep therapist, sleep management, sleep products, sleep help, sleep consultancy, sleep workshop, coaching, training, CPD.  

Sleep & Stress

Sleepwise Sleep Clinics and Therapy

Sleepwise provides professional sleep therapy services and advice, including clinics, one-to-one appointments, self-help products, CDs, articles and free products. Keywords: sleep clinic, sleep apnea, pure sleep, sleep experts, sleep depot, sit and sleep, sleep matters, sleep therapist, sleep management, sleep products, sleep help, sleep consultancy, sleep workshop, coaching, training, CPD.  


Submitted by Sleepwise Associate Tiziana Bertinotti

Insomnia and sleep disorders are on the increase. The proverbial good night's sleep seems more elusive than ever. Many people are facing many sleepless nights.

Chinese Medicine recognizes the importance of adequate sleep for physical, psychological, and spiritual well -being. Acupuncture has proven to be very effective in the treatment of insomnia. Improved sleep is only one of the benefits reported by people who have used acupuncture to treat insomnia. Acupuncture treatments for insomnia do not just treat a symptom, but they also look to address the root disharmony in the body causing the condition. Therefore, those who use acupuncture for insomnia achieve not only better sleep, but also an overall improvement of physical and mental health.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the surface of the body. These points lie along the energy conduits of Qi flow (vital energy) also called "Channels" or "Meridians". With acupuncture, the points are stimulated, and flow "unblocked", producing beneficial physical and emotional changes in the body.

Sleep is critical to maintain Qi and to maintain good health. Lack of sleep causes the body to overproduce "stress hormones" such as adrenaline and cortisol, which cause people to be nervous and more aggressive. Increased levels of cortisol due to chronic stress are also linked to high blood pressure, suppressed immune system and weight gain. Not enough sleep leads to poor job performance, impaired judgment, and serious accidents when driving or operating machinery.

From a Western medical point of view, Acupuncture decreases the production of stress hormones, while increasing the night-time production of melatonin which helps to ensure a proper night's sleep. It also has a calming effect on the central nervous system, stimulating the body to produce its own endorphins and serotonin, which make you feel much calmer and more relaxed.

During my treatments, I take a detailed history, which includes questioning, pulse analysis and tongue diagnosis. Even if I determine that two different patients have insomnia, their treatments may still be different, depending on each person's constitution (strength and type of overall body and health) and other factors, such as diet, lifestyle, and emotions. One of the key ingredients in treating insomnia is to ask specific questions as to what causes it. I am trained to find out why a patient has insomnia, what's going on in his/her body that's causing it, and why the flow of energy is not working properly. Each form of insomnia has many variations on the theme as there are people who suffer from it.

This is what makes acupuncture so individualized and effective: there is no one prescription for a condition. Each time a patient comes in, I re-evaluated, and each treatment is specifically selected. This is also why it is so common to see all sorts of symptoms clear up - not just the one someone has come in to treat. Rarely do I just work on one symptom alone: in every treatment, the whole person is being addressed and treated instead.

What You Can Expect

Most of my patients report feeling extremely relaxed at the end of even just the very first acupuncture treatment. This can be a great relief if someone has not had a good night's sleep for a while, as the body will tend to be full of tension even when resting. Consequently, people often sleep very well the night after treatment, but this doesn't mean the problem is solved.

Because insomnia is usually a chronic problem, several treatments are likely to be needed in order to enable the body to readjust properly. These should be received a couple of times a week over the course of one to two months. Please note that it is important to complete the course of treatments that I recommend in order to see and feel results. Each acupuncture treatment builds on the previous one, so it is vital not to stop after only one or two treatments. The principle is the same as when taking antibiotics: for proper therapeutic results, we must complete their course, and not just take one or two doses.

As the condition improves and the patient starts sleeping better, treatments are spaced farther apart, say every two, and later three weeks, or monthly. Once the condition has resolved, people may still choose to continue treatment for maintenance and preventative care. These maintenance visits can be monthly or quarterly, depending on people's health goals.

Sleep disturbances sometimes require a combination of approaches. This is why, in addition to acupuncture, I work closely with Sleepwise in order to provide a list of lifestyle changes that may be needed as well to treat insomnia.

I have compiled a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions that explain how acupuncture works, what it can treat, what to expect from a treatment, and much more. Please click onto the following link for further details:

Alternative, you may visit my website

Scientific evidence

There is plenty of scientific evidence that shows the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of insomnia and other sleep-related disorders.

Here are a few citations for research:



A systematic review of studies of acupuncture for insomnia, including papers published in both English and Chinese, has been carried out by researchers in Hong Kong. Twenty RCTs met the inclusion criteria. The majority of RCTs concluded that traditional needle acupuncture (TNA) was significantly more effective than benzodiazepines for treating insomnia, with mean effective rates for acupuncture and benzodiazepines being 91% and 75%, respectively. TNA also appeared to be better at improving sleep than sleep hygiene counselling and sham acupuncture. Standardised and individualised acupuncture were found to have similar effective rates. (Traditional needle acupuncture treatment for insomnia: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med. 2009 Mar 18. [Epub ahead of print]).



A randomised single-blind trial has examined the efficacy of abdominal acupuncture as a treatment for insomnia. In the Chinese study, 44 women (aged 22 to 56) were randomly assigned to receive acupuncture or medication. The acupuncture group received abdominal acupuncture once a day for the first three days and once every three days for the remaining 11 days. Abdominal acupuncture was administered according to a standardised protocol Zhongwan REN-12, Xiawan REN-10, Guanyuan REN-4, Qihai REN-6, bilateral Shangqu KID-17, Huaroumen ST-24, Xiafengshidian (extraordinary point), and Qipang (extraordinary point). In addition, subjects in the acupuncture group also received a placebo pill once daily. Subjects in the medication group were treated with sham acupuncture at the same time as the acupuncture group and received estazolam (a benzodiazepine) once a day. Subjects who received abdominal acupuncture lowered their scores on the Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire by a statistically significant average of 26.32 points. The authors conclude that abdominal acupuncture is more effective than pharmacological treatment for relieving insomnia in this group and has few adverse effects. (Abdominal acupuncture for insomnia in women: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Acupunct Electrother Res. 2008;33(1-2):33-41).



A systematic review of current literature conducted by authors from Hong Kong has concluded that auricular acupuncture appears to be effective for treating insomnia. Eight hundred and seventy eight (878) papers were searched of which only six trials (402 people treated with AA among 673 total participants) were deemed of high enough methodological quality to meet the inclusion criteria. The recovery and improvement rates produced by AA were found to be significantly higher than those of diazepam. The efficacy of using Semen vaccariae ear seeds was better than that of controls while use of magnetic beads did not show statistical significance. Six commonly used auricular acupoints were Shenmen (100%), Heart (83.33%), Occiput (66.67%), Subcortex (50%), Brain and Kidney (each 33.33%, respectively). The authors recommend that further, better-designed trials be carried out. (Auricular acupuncture treatment for insomnia: a systematic review. J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Jul-Aug;13(6):669-76).



In a study of 18 anxious subjects, five weeks of acupuncture treatment was associated with significant improvements in a variety of sleep determinants (polysomnographic measures of sleep onset latency, arousal index, total sleep time and sleep efficiency), reduction in anxiety and nocturnal increase in endogenous melatonin secretion. (J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2004 Winter;16(1):19-28).



Acupuncture appears to be effective in the treatment of insomnia according to a systematic review and meta-analysis carried out by Chinese authors. Forty-six randomised trials involving 3811 patients were included and the methodological quality of trials was judged to be generally fair. Meta-analyses showed a beneficial effect for acupuncture compared with no treatment, and for real acupressure compared with sham acupressure. Acupuncture was superior to medication in terms of the number of patients whose total sleep duration increased by more than three hours. However, there was no difference between acupuncture and medication in average sleep duration compared to medication alone. Acupuncture plus medication showed a better effect on total sleep duration. Acupuncture plus herbs was significantly better than herbs alone in increase of sleep rate. The authors conclude that further large, rigorously designed trials are warranted. (Acupuncture for treatment of insomnia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Nov;15(11):1171-86).

Tiziana Bertinotti

BHSc (Acupuncture), BA (Hons),
Post-Grad Cert. (Chinese Herbal Medicine),
Diploma of Bowen Therapy (Bowtech)