Over the years there have been many studies seeking to examine the effects of acupuncture on those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. This year a team of researchers undertook a survey and analysis of previous research, in order to determine how effective different types of acupuncture have been throughout six randomized trials.
But first: What is sleep apnea? If you regularly deal with difficulty breathing at night, then this may be something you are familiar with. It’s a chronic disorder that affects people during sleep when they are unable to breathe for a period of approximately 10 seconds. A person can experience hundreds of events throughout one night.
All of the studies involved in this latest research examine these experiences through what’s known as the AHI – Apnea-hypopnea index. This is used to determine the severity at which people have apnea (stop breathing) and how many times they experience hypopnea (their breathing becomes obstructed) over the course of an hour.
One of the goals of this meta-analysis (which essentially means, a study of other studies) was to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture in relation to other traditional means of managing sleep apnea. That includes CPAP – a machine that requires a person to place a mask over their face that allows airways to remain open during sleep. The researchers outline that despite its effectiveness, “many patients suffer from local side effects at the nose or face or discomfort due to the mask. Moreover, CPAP does not allow for a permanent resolution of respiratory disturbances during sleep but only suppresses them while using the devices.”
In approaching different and alternative methods, such as manual and electro acupuncture, there is evidence in the results of these six trials that strongly supports their usage: “In the comparison of MA and nasal continuous positive airway pressure, the results favored MA in the improvement of AHI.”
“No adverse events associated with acupuncture therapy were documented,” the study concludes.
So if you’re dissatisfied with using your CPAP on a nightly basis, then it might be time to try acupuncture as a less intrusive way of getting a good night’s sleep.
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