Alternative medicines such as acupuncture and massage therapy are known to improve a variety of medical conditions, and new studies have also shown that acupuncture can improve health by increasing the quality of people’s sleep. A medical research group studying the effects of acupuncture discovered that it had a positive effect on the sleep of the test subjects. The electrical engineers on the research team used electroencephalogy (EEG) to detect and measure the brain activity of human subjects before, throughout, and following an acupuncture session. The outcome of the study conclusively showed that acupuncture benefits both the length and the quality of sleep by expanding slow wave activity throughout brain lobes.
Acupuncture affects sleep quality by heightening the levels of delta band power, a brain wave that is known to promote sleep. At the same time, the acupuncture of the study decreased the amount of alpha and beta band density in relation to the levels of delta band power in the brain. Lessening levels of alpha and beta band power throughout the brain has been shown to also improve sleep.
The researchers discovered these results after administering manual acupuncture to healthy subjects at acupoint ST36 with stainless steel acupuncture needles of 0.2 mm diameter. The acupuncture needles were inserted and retained in the subjects for 2 minutes before being manually rotated for 2 more minutes. During the acupuncture process, EEG was used to measure the power of the research subjects’ alpha, beta, delta, and theta brain bands, which all affect sleep. The results of these measurements decisively showed that delta band power increased throughout several parts of the brain both during and after acupuncture treatment.
The researchers showed a decisive change in EEG rhythms due to the acupuncture at point ST36, and they conclude that the ability of acupuncture therapy to increase delta band power and decrease alpha and beta band power positively benefits the length and quality of sleep. The researchers also noted that further study of brain activity may provide insight into what makes acupuncture and massage such effective types of alternative medicine. Since sleep is such an important component of health, the findings of this study will benefit those struggling to improve their sleep quality and duration.