When a woman starts to go through menopause, it is a time of major hormonal shifts. Many of these hormonal changes affect the body adversely. One of the more irritating symptoms is insomnia, or difficulty sleeping.
One of the reasons for difficulty of sleeping in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the deficiency of Blood. Menopause can be seen as a deficiency in Blood. The role of Blood in TCM includes “housing the Mind”. If Blood is deficient, it is like a person trying to sleep on a bed without a mattress.
Acupuncture for Insomnia
A recent study (link) by Cong, et al tried to see if acupuncture can help with this. Here is what they did:
Design: A randomized, participant-blind, placebo-controlled trial consisted of the acupuncture group (n=38) and placebo-acupuncture group (n=38). Setting: A tertiary teaching and general hospital. Participants: 76 peri-menopausal women with insomnia disorder based on the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, third Edition. Interventions: A 10-session of acupuncture at bilateral Shenshu (BL 23) and Ganshu (BL 18) with unilateral Qimen (LR 14) and Jingmen (GB 25) or Streitberger needles at the same acupoints was performed for over 3 weeks. Measurements: Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) with over-night polysomnography (PSG) exam were completed at baseline and post-treatment.
Note the use of Streitberger needles in the study: These needles are special “fake” needles designed so that the subject THINKS that there is a needle being inserted, even if the needle doesn’t actually penetrate the skin.
So let’s see how they did:
After the treatments, the decrease from baseline in PSQI score was 8.03 points in acupuncture group and 1.29 points in placebo-acupuncture group. The change from baseline in ISI score was 11.35 points in acupuncture group and 2.87 points in placebo-acupuncture group. In PSG data, acupuncture significantly improved the sleep efficiency and total sleep time, associated with less wake after sleep onset and lower percent stage 1 after the treatment. No significant differences from baseline to post-treatment were found in placebo-acupuncture group.
What this means in the real acupucnture group, there was a tremendous improvement in the sleep quality of the patients. In the fake acupuncture group, there was little, if any.
All in all, we can see that there is a use for acupuncture in the treatment of perimenopausal insomnia.
Cong F, Na Z, Zhen L, Lu-Hua Y, Chen X, Wen-Jia Y, Xin-Tong Y, Huan Y, Yun-Fei
C. Acupuncture Improves Peri-menopausal Insomnia: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
Sleep. 2017 Sep 22. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsx153. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: