Auricular acupuncture for insomnia

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) is the most effective treatment for insomnia. Studies show that auricular acupuncture (AA) may alleviate insomnia symptoms.The overall aim of the thesis was to compare treatment effects of auricular acupuncture (AA) with cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) on symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, depression, hypnotic drugs consumption and quality of life from short- and long-term perspectives.Paper I had a qualitative approach with a descriptive design. 16 participants received group-treatment with AA during their protracted withdrawal phase and were interviewed about their experiences. They participants experienced a reduction in protracted withdrawal symptoms, improved subjective sleep quality, a strong sensation of peacefulness and increased wellbeing.Paper II, III and IV present results from a randomised controlled trial in where the effects of group-treatment with AA and CBT-i were compared in short- and long-term using subjective (questionnaires and sleep diary) and objective (actigraphy) measurements.The results showed that CBT-i was superior to AA in reducing insomnia symptoms in both the short and long run. Both groups experienced significant long-term reduction of depressive symptoms. Further, both groups managed to maintain a decreased intake of hypnotic drugs at the end of the treatment when compared to baseline measurement. Short-term reduction of symptoms of anxiety and depression improved only in the AA group. The results from the objective actigraph recordings showed that the AA group slept more and the CBT-i group less after the treatment and that sleep patterns in both groups reverted to pre-treatment levels after 6 months.Conclusively: AA, as administered in this study, was not as good as CBT-i in treating insomnia symptoms, and should not be used as a stand-alone treatment for insomnia. Our results also demonstrate that prolonged sleep time does not necessarily yield better sleep, and that the perception of insomnia symptoms is not inevitably affected by sleep duration. AA was as effective as CBT-i in ending hypnotic drugs consumption. Moreover, AA was more successful than CBT-i in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in the short run. Further studies investigating AA for anxiety and depression are motivated.