Tapping Into Acupuncture

Last updated: August 2021

Complementary therapies can be explained as follows: “If a non-mainstream practice is used together with conventional medicine, it’s considered 'complementary.'”1 

In my case, I use a CPAP to treat my sleep apnea and keep my airway open as I sleep. This is my conventional medicine treatment. In addition to the CPAP, I rely on a range of complementary therapies to help me cope with having a chronic sleep condition. I have used acupuncture, in particular, for more than a decade.

Trying acupuncture as a complementary therapy

Shortly after my diagnosis of sleep apnea, I was having a hard time getting used to my CPAP mask. I had read that acupuncture was relaxing and I thought it might help me get the restorative sleep I needed while I got used to my CPAP.

At my first appointment, my acupuncturist explained that acupuncture is based on Eastern medicine. She asked me all about my health and then examined my tongue and read the pulses in the wrist. This allowed her to develop an individual treatment plan which involved placing tiny needles at specific points along meridians all over the body.

My acupuncturist told me a lot about my meridians and which ones needed to be supported to help my Qi (energy) flow properly. I apparently have a “spleen-Qi deficiency.” Like most acupuncture patients, I wasn’t too concerned with what I learned about my constitution, I was more focused on how I felt after the treatment.

Acupuncture and relaxation

At that first appointment, I lay on a table and my acupuncturist inserted small needles all over my body. Next, she left me to relax under a heat lamp. During the first few sessions, I fell asleep on the table and had frequent sleep apnea episodes. I was disheartened in the beginning. 

However, as time went on, I found acupuncture treatments more like a sort of meditation. I wouldn’t fall asleep and wouldn't have apnea episodes. I felt as though I was floating, with thoughts coming and going. The more relaxed acupuncture left me, the better I would sleep.

What does the research show?

I am not suggesting that acupuncture is a treatment for sleep apnea. My treatment for sleep apnea is my CPAP machine. However, in my experience, acupuncture can be a great complementary therapy to help with overall wellness. 

Scientific studies have shown that acupuncture is a promising treatment for anxiety and that it increases the release of endorphins to boost feelings of wellbeing.2,3

An interruption to my scheduled acupuncture sessions

My last acupuncture session was in January 2020. I planned on going for my next appointment in March 2020 but when the COVID-19 lockdowns happened in my area, my acupuncturist decided to close her practice. 

Although many acupuncturists have reopened their doors, I will wait a little longer until COVID-19 is more under control before I have treatments in person again.

Discovering an acupressure app

I looked around for an alternative to acupuncture. Acupressure stimulates the same points as acupuncture but does not require any needles. I discovered an app called “The Tapping Solution” which uses acupressure. The app directs you to tap different points on your face, body, and scalp. 

Similar to acupuncture, acupressure points are stimulated and a feeling of calm and well-being is the result. I noticed over time, as I got used to the technique, my anxiety levels seemed to drop. Tapping doesn’t leave me blissed out the way that acupuncture did but it certainly helps me stay on top of my anxiety and prepares me for more restful sleep.

I have found both acupuncture and acupressure very helpful in helping with relaxation and a reduction in anxiety. The more relaxed I feel, the better I sleep. That’s why I will be going for acupuncture as soon as COVID-19 is over. Until then, I’ll keep tapping!

Do you use any complementary therapies for better sleep? Have you tried acupuncture or acupressure? Share your experience with the community in the comments below!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SleepApnea.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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