In a follow-up study (PDF) to their previous paper (PDF) showing that 10 acupuncture treatments can lower the AHI by 50%, the same authors performed sleep studies just before and after one acupuncture treatment, and found a 49% improvement in the apnea hypopnea index. The apnea index improved by 86%, and the hypopnea index dropped 39%. This was in the traditional, manual acupuncture group. In the group that received electrical stimulation acupuncture, the results were slightly better. The study authors proposed that acupuncture somehow alters the serotonergic pathways that are related to the caudal raphe neurons that control the muscles of the upper airway. One of the needles was also inserted into the genioglossus muscle, which is the main upper airway dilator muscle.
Personally, I’ve had mixed results using the same protocol for sleep apnea. But when it works, it works really well. Regardless, there’s minimal risk of complications, and even if your sleep apnea doesn’t improve, you’ll get the relaxing benefits of acupuncture treatment.
Has anyone experienced better sleep after acupuncture treatment?