Acupuncture produces meaningful, durable improvement cancer survivors’ insomnia, according to an American research team. In a randomised trial, they compared eight weeks of acupuncture with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) in 160 cancer survivors. Acupuncture involved a manualised protocol including standardised points commonly used to address sleep problems (Shenmen HE-7, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Baihui DU-20, Shenting DU-24, Shenmen, Sympathetic) with additional points to treat comorbid symptoms like pain and anxiety if needed. CBT-I included sleep restriction, stimulus control, cognitive restructuring, relaxation training and education. CBT-I was more effective than acupuncture post-treatment, however, both acupuncture and CBT-I produced clinically meaningful reductions in insomnia severity (acupuncture -8.31 points, CBT-I -10.91 points on a 28-point scale) and maintained improvements up to 20 weeks. Acupuncture was more effective for pain at the end of treatment, while both groups had similar improvements in fatigue, mood, and quality of life and reduced prescription hypnotic medication use.

Acupuncture Versus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia in Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2019 Apr 9. pii