How to Cure Insomnia with Acupuncture

acupuncture needles on a stone plate with herbs
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Poking yourself with sharp objects might not seem like the most effective way to improve your sleep, but first impressions are often misleading.

The Bulletproof approach is to try what is supposed to work, and if it doesn’t, then go outside the box to try what shouldn’t work. Acupuncture for sleep problems is a perfect example. I’ve worked to improve my sleep efficiency for years, and have tried just about everything under the sun, from EEG neurofeedback, to smart drugs, to (surprisingly) honey. If you want to get really cutting-edge you can even try playing with electromagnetic fields, an approach I discuss with Dr. Bill Pawluk in this podcast. Many of these techniques have worked, and some haven’t, and you can find most of them in my sleep hacking posts.

One of the sleep improvement techniques that has consistently proven to be effective for me, and many others, is acupuncture.

As Chris Kresser has written, acupuncture has gained an undeserved reputation for being an unsupported practice with no evidence behind it. The truth is that acupuncture not only works on the basis of pure self-experimentation and Chinese medicine – there’s also strong clinical evidence behind acupuncture for sleep. In fact, I consider acupuncturists to be some of the first biohackers, and the idea that a needle can modulate the flow of electrons in your skin is not hard to believe at all.


The Evidence Behind Acupuncture for Insomnia

A preliminary report in 2004 found that in patients with anxiety, acupuncture increased nighttime melatonin production and total sleep time. The patients who received acupuncture also fell asleep faster, were less aroused at night, and were less stressed. The researchers concluded that, “Acupuncture treatment may be of value for some categories of anxious patients with insomnia.”

Another study found that acupuncture improves sleep quality in patients with HIV, among whom sleep disturbance is a common problem. The researchers found that, “Sleep activity and sleep quality significantly improved following 5 weeks of individualized acupuncture…”

Other studies have shown that acupuncture works for people without health problems, too. A study in 1999 found that acupuncture improved sleep quality in normal people with insomnia. Sleep hackers, pay attention!

Another benefit of acupuncture is relief from chronic pain, which is a common contributor to sleeplessness.

My extensive self-testing confirms these findings. I started using acupuncture to improve my mental performance, and found that it noticeably improved my sleep quality as well. In fact, I’m at my most productive on the days I do acupuncture, both at work and in bed when it’s time to sleep.


3 Steps to Using Acupuncture for Sleep Hacking

If you’re interested in trying acupuncture to improve your sleep, here are the steps you need to take:

  1. Find a qualified acupuncturist. There are several websites that you can use to search for an acupuncturist in your area, with being one of the most popular.
  2. Make sure you “click” with your practitioner. Acupuncture is about more than just needles – you have to be comfortable and confident in the person’s healing abilities. This isn’t to say that an acupuncturist you don’t like won’t help, but you’ll get more out of the experience if you like them and they understand your body and mind.
  3. Give the process an honest effort, and at least several treatments before you decide if it helps or not. Sometimes it takes several visits before you notice major changes, and other times the improvements are immediate and lasting. I’ve never had an acupuncture experience that wasn’t hugely noticeable, but I see very well qualified people and I’m trained to be in touch with my nervous system.

Acupuncture may not seem like the best way to improve your sleep, but research and my personal biohacking experiments have shown that it is. While it’s received a reputation for being a bit “woowoo,” acupuncture can actually be an effective way to improve your sleep quality.

Have you, or are you going to try acupuncture? What have you used it for? Did it improve your sleep? I appreciate your comments.


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By Dave Asprey

  • Dave, have you checked out Accuscope/Myopulse therapy? Definitely a biohack! It’s basically Accupunture without the needles. I’ve had a pretty brutal pectoral injury for 3 years now and the Myopulse really calms the uneassiness and twitching of my pectoral.

    Only recently have I started doing Accupunture on that area, I started with the Myopulse, but the needles do an amazing job! It’s a meditative experience. I can really feel the blood/Qi flowing and helping the injury heal.

    Accupunture gets two thumbs up from me!

    • Dave Asprey

      No, the accupulse sounds related to Tibetan diagnostic methods (different pulse locations). There is so much data available!
      Sent from an iphone. That means it’s spelled wrong…and I’m probably lost. You understand… -Dave

      • “The Acuscope & Myopulse detect abnormal nerve fiber impulses due to subtle electrical blockages and imbalances that occur in tender points called trigger points in muscles or at specific points along Accenture meridians. The Acuscope establishes a two way communication between its computers circuitry and the area of the patient’s body being treated. It measures such things as tissue
        conductivity, which is generally low in an area of pain.

        It treats by introducing a gentle current in waveforms
        similar to the body’s own electrical currents. This increases the electrical activity of the affected tissue so that cells can begin the
        work of self repair.

        It may seem like the Acuscope & Myopulse instruments heal the tissue. They do not. Both make the body heal itself by stimulating not only the blood supply and oxygen to the area, but also
        stimulating cellular regeneration.”


  • Insomnia is also simply fixed through Chronobiologcial repair of environment and sleeping Genes.

    • Lia

      what kind of treatment is this? I have never heard of it before.

  • Brent


    My wife just got her Wellness FX results back. She is 27, 5’1 and 115 lbs and a former pro athlete.

    Here are her numbers and I wanted to get your thoughts:

    Total Cholesterol: 348 LDL-C: 229 HDL-C:108 Triglycerides: 55 vLDL-C: 11 LP(a): 1 Apo B: 170

    Alanine aminotransferase: 80 (Supposed to be under 40) Aspartate aminotransferase: 43 (Supposed to be under 32) BUN/Creatinine Ratio: 26 (Supposed to be under 26) Dehydration??

    Any thoughts would be appreciated! I love her HDL, Triglycerides, and vLDL, but the the Apo B and total LDL concern me.

    Her CRP level is .46.

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  • Judy

    I began using accupuncture to manage my atrial fibrillation, after reading the results of an Italian study. It has been fantastic to manage the a. fib, and dramatically reduce arthritis pain in my knees, hips, back and feet. I too, feel great energy and clarity after a treatment. My thinking when I began was that it was worth a try. Stopped for a few weeks, and found I became somewhat symptomatic again. Now I go once a week. And the time spent in meditation during the treatment can’t be bad for me either.

  • SeanR

    Interestingly, the US military is now training a number of Medical Doctors, including Psychiatrists, in accupuncture for the treatment of PTSD and other psychological and psychiatric conditions. I personally benefitted greatly from accupuncture as a means to improve my sleep. When you get a practitioner who can explain they why’s and how’s of the treatment, even the biggest skeptic could be converted.

  • Pinhead Mike

    I’m going to give this a shot. There’s more it can do for you than improve sleep, although that’s definitely a biggie for me. I had a cantankerous old grandfather who tried acupuncture. It relieved his chronic CNS issues better than any drug he ever took. That is all the proof I’ll need as to its effectiveness.

    I’m more of a DIY guy though, so I reckon I’ll fork out the cash just to experience a professional’s standard of work. Then I’ll experiment with self-acupressure and gradually work up to self-acupuncture, until I can do it myself to a similar standard.

    Dave, you’re an inspiration.

  • flor nike

    I haven’t try this one but I’m having a problem with my sleeping 🙁

  • Dy

    I read this with I interest as I suffer insomnia and had acupuncture yesterday. Last nights sleep was the worst I’ve had in a long time. 🙁 pretty frustrated. Do you think it can take a few times to work?

    • I’m a Doctor of Oriental Medicine (acupuncturist) and if you were my patient I would tell you that you’ll likely start to notice improvements right away, but may take a few visits to get your brain and body in sync. I would also tell you that there are lots of factors that effect sleep so I would encourage good diet, good fat, good sleep hygiene, etc.

    • Sarah Meaney

      Hi Dy I practice acupuncture and I have to say that the results of treament very much depend on your circumstances. Of course diet, work, stress and environment does add and we tell people that sometimes there can be ups and downs in symptoms with first few treatments as it can bring underlying issues to the surface. Enjoy your next few sessions and re-evaluate how you feel! Best of luck

  • Ole

    I am an acupuncturist since many years. And I do agree. There is nothing besides acupuncture that works as well for deep sleep. Ok maybe hiking mountains or swimming in the ocean for several days in a row. But both of those take too much time.
    I must add though, that the right points and the right needling technique has to be used. Also it is deliberately kept secret but anyone can safely learn most of the sleep inducing points themselves without ANY danger whatsoever.


    • Steve Fuller

      I’ve been DIYing it myself for over 8 years. My ex was a practitioner. While I learned quite a bit from her, most I picked up through my own research. The applications used for sleep were always “hit or miss” for me. If you have any suggestions for the “right needling technique” I’m all ears…literally and figuratively… 😉

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  • Thank you for your informative and beneficial website

  • FSU Mom Among the Gators

    Researching to see if acupuncture will help cure my daughter’s insomnia as she does not sleep a wink without Ambien and needs to come off it. Sleeplessness started with three babies in less than 5 years who didn’t sleep at night, keeping Mom awake for days and then years. Add to the lack of sleep anxiety and then depression until now she cannot sleep at all without heavy med. A sleep aid from CVS does nothing! I don’t know why it hasn’t occurred to us to try acupuncture as she was successfully treated a few months ago to cure a year long episode of eye twitching (which I thought was impossible but done in 2 or 3 visits.) You don’t have to convince us that acupuncture works, so this is our answer for insomnia. Thanks for backing up my thinking on this…..worth the $95 per session.

  • mokarrom hossain

    Luckily, the ancient art of Chinese healing through acupuncture can
    help you out of that dark place. What’s more, it can do so painlessly
    and easily.

    The special healing crystals (NO NEEDLES – OUCH!) are simply taped to
    the body at certain specified points in order to jump start the body’s
    natural healing process. No actual needles or puncturing of the skin are
    involved, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning up any blood or
    dealing with any painful childhood fears of needles. Actually, you won’t
    believe how easy the process is. Once you’ve done it once, you’ll be
    wondering why you haven’t been doing it for years!

  • Joe Stentan

    I never heard this before but I think it will really gonna help one of my friend who suffering from insomnia. You should check out

  • How do I find a qualified acupuncturist?

    I’m glad you asked! Let me direct you to this page and suggest that you look for an acupuncturist with credentialing that say “Dipl OM.” The NCCAOM is the national accrediting body for nationally licensing acupuncturists.

  • skywalkerpop

    Since I began acupuncture treatment not only my sleeping disorder improved but my back pains too

  • mechanicsscuffle

    I am a patient at Julie Festa Acupuncture and I can say that acupuncture cures a lot of my problems including my sleeping disorder. For those people who are in doubts try it and I am sure you will be surprised in about a week

  • Vj Singh

    Hello, I’ve had insomnia for years, and it’s somewhat caused my brain to become numb, it runs on its own, however it doesn’t feel like it exists, to me it don’t feel alive, it’s dead but does what it wants. It is a bit strange but it has effected different parts of my life, and I am willing to give acupuncture a go to recover all the sleep I’ve lost and caused my brain to malfunction. Can you tell me please where on the body you did Acupuncture to help your insomnia? This question is for the main writer who wrote the 3 steps on ‘how to curing insomnia with acupuncture’. And anyone who can help me please.

  • Nounua

    Hi! I’ve had insomnia for a number of years, and decided to give acupuncture a go. After a couple of sessions, I noticed an improvement. I found it easier to get to sleep & although I would wake after a few hours, I would eventually fall back asleep again for an hour or 2 which was great for me! But for some reason…I’m starting to feel like I’m going backwards. I’m still having acupuncture, in a few days I’ll have my 14th session. But the past couple of weeks I’ve had started having intermittent nights of just not sleeping again. This is the second night in a row this week that I’ve been wide awake. It’s so frustrating! In theory it shouldn’t be getting worse right? Or are lapses like this normal? I suppose I’m just wondering if I should stick it out another while or not? I’d really appreciate any advice!

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  • Julissa Rodrigo

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    “I don’t really remember much about the day or the month or two following. I do remember sitting in my doctor’s office as she told me I have insomnia positive. I remember looking at the painting on the wall. I became instantly numb and everything became a blur.”

    “I was speechless, frozen in time. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t stop crying…
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  • Sherry Sims

    Wow! Great information! I have chronic severe insomnia. I am willing to try anything at this point. Former doctor had me taking alprazolam (generic for Xanax) for both anxiety and insomnia. Yes, it works, but I have gone from .25 mg up to 2 to 3 mg to be effective. I asked my new doctor to please find an alternative to the alprazolam. I am on Buspirone for anxiety and it seems to be okay as I have had no anxiety attacks since taking. However, so far, they have tried Trazodone, ambien and now Lunesta for my insomnia. The Trazodone had the opposite intended effect. Ambien did not work at all. The Lunesta only works if I am already sleepy. Last week I went and spoke to an acupuncturist at a local Healing Arts Center. After researching and now finding the information presented here, I have decided to call to make my first appointment first thing tomorrow morning. I now have hope! This also fits well with my goals to be medication free after a really bad experience with a former doctor who was “prescription happy”. At one point she had me taking over 30 pills a day and I was an absolute useless zombie. I made the decision to go to more natural remedies and am down to 4 meds per day — Cymbalta for depression, Buspirone for anxiety, Metformin for Type 2 diabetes and the Lunesta for sleep, which isn’t really working. The acupuncturist I spoke with was very thorough, gladly answered all of my crazy questions, and even explained to me in depth how the process works and that it will also improve my other disorders! I’m convinced and can’t wait to get started! Another upside — the 1st session is $125, but following sessions are only $25. That’s less than my co-pay for a doctor’s office visit! Wish me luck and I hope to be reporting back soon with some great positive results!

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