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J Sleep Res. 2018 Apr;27(2):220-231. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12597. Epub 2017 Sep 8.

Self-administered acupressure for insomnia disorder: a pilot randomized controlled trial.

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School of Nursing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China.
Department of Psychology and Centre for Psychosocial Health, the Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
Department of Psychiatry, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
School of Chinese Medicine, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.
School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Pokfulam, China.


Self-administered acupressure has potential as a low-cost alternative treatment for insomnia. To evaluate the short-term effects of self-administered acupressure for alleviating insomnia, a pilot randomized controlled trial was conducted. Thirty-one subjects (mean age: 53.2 years; 77.4% female) with insomnia disorder were recruited from a community. The participants were randomized to receive two lessons on either self-administered acupressure or sleep hygiene education. The subjects in the self-administered acupressure group (n = 15) were taught to practise self-administered acupressure daily for 4 weeks. The subjects in the comparison group (n = 16) were advised to follow sleep hygiene education. The primary outcome was the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). Other measures included a sleep diary, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and Short-form Six-Dimension. The subjects in the self-administered acupressure group had a significantly lower ISI score than the subjects in the sleep hygiene education group at week 8 (effect size = 0.56, P = 0.03). However, this observed group difference did not reach a statistically significant level after Bonferroni correction. With regard to the secondary outcomes, moderate between-group effect sizes were observed in sleep onset latency and wake after sleep onset based on the sleep diary, although the differences were not significant. The adherence to self-administered acupressure practice was satisfactory, with 92.3% of the subjects who completed the lessons still practising acupressure at week 8. In conclusion, self-administered acupressure taught in a short training course may be a feasible approach to improve insomnia. Further fully powered confirmatory trials are warranted.


Acupuncture; RCT; self-acupressure; self-help; sleep; traditional Chinese medicine

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