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A new RCT study has been published about the efficacy of acupuncture in treating patients with Parkinson disease (PD) who have poor sleep quality, suggesting that acupuncture combined with the standard care may improve sleep quality among patients with this condition.

According to Parkinson Foundation, poor sleep quality is very common: “People with Parkinson’s usually fall asleep without much trouble but wake up frequently throughout the night and have trouble falling back asleep. There are many possible reasons: Tremor may wake you up. Vivid dreams, a side effect of levodopa-based medications such as Sinemet, can disturb sleep. Difficulty getting comfortable, whether from pain or because it is hard to turn over in bed, can keep you awake.”

Lack of sleep can make your body pain worse due to many reasons. This happens as sleeps interferes with certain pain centers of the brain and can change how a person perceives and reacts to discomfort. Poor sleep can decrease your pain tolerance, increase the intensity of your pain, and increase your chance for chronic pain. Lack of sleep can also cause inflammation in the body, resulting in muscle aches and pains, causing you more pain. Research has shown that lack of sleep reduces the pain threshold and pain tolerance of an individual.

Acupuncture has been proven being an effective treatment for pain relief in a general basis but also to improve sleep. In this case, the best acupuncture points for sleep improvement for patients with PD are as follows:

  • Si Shenzhen: (SI7): LUO point. Excellent point for treating neck pain and occipital headache as it relaxes the channel. Calms the mind for anxiety and clears external heat.
  • ShenTing (GV24): Excellent for seizures, headache, dizziness, calms the mind so it is good for insomnia. In TCM, we say “Extinguishes LV Wind and brings LV Yang down” being effecting for tremors with instant effect.
  • YinTang (GV29): Ex-Point. Calms the mind for anxiety, insomnia and “Too many thoughts”. Reduces dizziness and calms tremors. As reduced blood pressure, relieves frontal headaches.
  • HeGu (LI4): Yuan Source point. Commander of the face. Perfect for headaches (anywhere) and pains as it moves blood. Effective for blood stagnation. Combined with LR3, open channels so calms the tremors.
  • TaiChong (LR3): Shu Stream point & Yuan Source point. Good point for temporal headache, stress and depression. Extinguishes the inner Wind so calms dizziness and tremors. Good for insomnia and epilepsy.
  • SanYinJiao (SP6): Perfect point for headaches (anywhere), incontinence and any pain on the hips. Excellent for treating any acute or chronic emotional disorders.
  • ShenMen (HT7): Shu Stream point & Yuan Source point. Best point to calm the mind for insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks. 
  • ZuSanLi (ST36): Lower He-Sea point. Good point for treating headaches (anywhere). As it tonifies the Blood, helps for pain. Good for better digestions and bloating. 
  • ShenMai (BL62): Yang Qiao point. Great point for stiff neck, spasms, seizures and dizziness. Calms the mind for insomnia and tensional headache.
  • ZhaoHai (KI6): Confluent point. Calms the mind for insomnia and anxiety. 

Proper diagnosis first is required before implementing these acupuncture points as PD can be the result of different syndromes based on TCM. 

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