Acupuncture Lowers Sleep Apnea By Almost 50% After One Treatment

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?


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37 thoughts on “Acupuncture Lowers Sleep Apnea By Almost 50% After One Treatment

  1. I just had my first Acupuncture session. I was dx with central sleep Apnea about 4 years ago. My CPAP drives me nuts. So I tried Acupuncture it was amazing I feel so good today. I feel better than I have felt in years!!! I was shocked that is worked.

  2. Dear Dr. Parks,

    I have moderate to severe OSA and can not tolerate the CPAP. My is not a weight issue as I weight 118 lbs. I live in the Pittsburgh area and was wondering if you had any collegues who are in this area that are skilled at performing accupuncture for OSA,

    Desperate in Pgh

  3. Judy,

    Sorry, but I don’t know anyone in your area. One option is to take the cited article with you to an acupuncturist of your choice and see if he or she is willing to follow the same protocol. Good luck.

  4. Read about this treatment for sleep apnea and since i find it impossible to sleep with a cpap machine decided to give it a try. have had sleep apnea for over 15 yrs. it does work. i first went once a week for 4 treatments now going once a month and my husband is the most surprised. i do recommend this even though i don’t understand how it works. i now get a good nights sleep and no annoying cpap machine!

  5. Hi Dr. The article link above seems to be broken. I would love to take the protocol to my current acupuncturist can you please provide again. A big thank you!

  6. Lauren, the link to the original article (2nd PDF file) is now working again. It should have the protocol. Thanks for pointing out the broken link.

    Scott, Since there’s no specific sleep apnea diagnosis in Chinese medicine, there’s no one specifically that you can go to for this protocol. Take a copy of the original paper and take it to your local trusted acupuncturist. Good luck.

  7. To the person wanting to know of someone in Colorado that “does” this….Sun Accupuncture on E. Hampden…Dr. Chin is the best I’ve ever been to.

  8. I have sleep apnea and have not really improved with both cpap and bpap machines .I see from your sight that Dr Park is a surgeon but it’s not clear if he does acupuncture on sleep apnea himself or not .If he does acupuncture for sleep apnea I am interested in making an appointment.I can be reached at 718 840 8946.Thank you

  9. Mr. Simkin, I don’t practice acupuncture myself. You can find an acupuncturist easily in your local area. You can also print the article mentioned and take it with you to see if the acupuncturist will accommodate the study’s protocol. Good luck.

  10. Very good article Dr. Park. My view as an acupuncturist is that we should work more closely for the benefit of our patients.
    The protocol is very logical. Unfortunately, with all “protocol” type acupuncture the results are incredibly varied as there is no use of differential diagnosis which is imperative for success in most treatments.
    Thank you for sharing.

  11. Not sure if my previous email reached you since it was sent from a different site.

    I will skip the details and just ask you if there is a facility in the Minneapolis, MN area

    that uses acupuncture to treat sleep apnea?

    Thank you

  12. Ms. Dalh,

    Sorry, but acupuncturists don’t treat sleep apnea, since there is no such condition in Chinese medicine. However, they can use the protocol in the paper mentioned to hopefully replicate the results. Your best bet is to take along a copy of the protocol to any trusted acupuncturist.

  13. Hi Dr Park,

    I am an acupuncturist specializing in sleep disorders in Boulder, Colorado. I have had some great results in treating sleep apnea.
    Just read your book and found if thought provoking, especially the correlation between sinus problems and sleep apnea.

    Thank you for your work!

  14. Dr park,

    I tried to open the pdf files to visit acupunturists. But the second file is not working. I hope you can email or repost the file. I hope acupuncture can help me thanks.
    From irene

  15. Dear Dr. Young,

    Thank you for your e-mails–I appreciate any info relating to sleep
    After previous info from you, and after reading your book, I meet all the criteria for Obstructive Respiratory Apnea and am dealing with that. I did try traditional acupuncture for a shoulder issue & did mention the sleep problem but after 6 sessions there was no benefit to shoulder or sleep. I also tried acupuncture for tennis elbow about 25 yrs. ago and that had no effect, either.
    The last procedures were done at a Health science / Chiropractic school assoc. with Univ. of MN by supervised students in their last mos. of 2 yrs. training.

    Thank you.


  16. After thought. When I told the acupuncturist that “they didn’t have seep apnea in China” the response was, “they call it by a different name.

  17. Hy, not sure whether EA can help with central apnoea? Can you enlighten me please?
    Kind regards
    MrL.badman uk

  18. Searching for the protocol as mentioned above and can’t find it. Is it possible for you to email it to me?

  19. Dr. Park,

    Can you please post the
    accupuncture protocol, including the specific needle insertion points, on your website where they are easy to access? I remember seeing them on the internet (your insertion points), but I have not been able to re-access them at all.

    I am sure that if you re-post them this way, it would help an awful lot of people (and not just myself) — who want to be able to show them to their local accupuncture physicians.

    Thank you for your understanding.


    Jill Severance

  20. Dear Dr. Park,

    I live in San Jose, California, and would like to ask you about the protocol of the
    needles insertion (pdf file) for healing sleep apnea by means of acupuncture.
    Do you by any chance know an acupuncturist in San Jose area who can help
    patients with sleep apnea?
    Thank you so much for any info and advise that you can provide.

    Best regards,

  21. Mr. Lee,

    Sorry, but I don’t know of any acupuncturists that specifically do this protocol in the US. One thing you can do is to take this protocol to an acupuncturist that you have a relationship with and ask they are willing to try the protocol.

    Good luck,


  22. Dear Dr. Park,

    Thank you for your reply.
    Can you please point out the link to the protocol.
    Sorry for the trouble.
    Thank you again for your time.

    Best regards,

  23. Hello Dr. Park

    I just stumbled across this article and read part of the study. It has been a while since this was published and I wonder if this method has since proved more successful in your practice or if you have moved on to something more effective? I have been diagnosed recently with severe OSA and am not able to tolerate A-pap so I am looking at acupuncture and chiropractic as alternatives. I also found an article that was positive about Aurioulotherapy is used to unblock energy meridians around the ear. What do you think?

  24. Ms. Loo,

    Acupuncture can be helpful in some patients with sleep apnea, but doesn’t work all the time on a consistent basis. I recommend it as a complementary option.

  25. Dear Dr. Park,
    I plan to visit Taiwan for a vacation next month. I would like to see an acupuncturist who
    can help cure with my sleep apnea. And for this, I would like to ask you if you can please
    send me the link to the protocol pdf file that show the needles insertion to help cure sleep
    Sorry for the trouble and thank you so much for your time.
    Your help is greatly appreciated.
    Best regards,
    Stanley Lee