Struggling to sleep at night is frustrating, and can lead to health problems. When you think about ways to get more zzz’s, being poked with needles probably doesn’t come to mind—but perhaps it should. Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, has been linked to improved sleep and has also been shown to help treat insomnia. Are you intrigued? Check out the answers to these commonly asked questions on the topic.
The fine, sterile needles that are used in acupuncture are inserted into specific points of the body that are known to stimulate nerves and muscles. (Don’t worry: Most people don’t feel any discomfort while the needles are being placed.)It is thought that the treatment stimulates blood flow and helps ease pain. And it’s not just sleep that can be improved—acupuncture has also been shown to reduce allergy symptoms, boost fertility, treat migraines, and more.
More research is needed to find out exactly how much acupuncture can help improve sleep, but it can help you feel more relaxed and less anxious, which may encourage you to fall asleep easier. Acupuncture has also been shown to help manage sleep apnea, perhaps because it strengthens the tongue and prevents it from dropping back during the night and blocking your airway.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk with your doctor first to rule out any serious underlying problems. Then discuss first-line treatment methods that may be more effective (like changing your sleep schedule) or cheaper and easier to implement (like exercising more) than acupuncture. If you do decide to try acupuncture, the risks of complication are generally low. However, it’s best to ask your doctor to recommend a trusted professional before you book an appointment.