Study objectives: This study investigates the therapeutic effect of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) acupuncture for chronic insomnia.
Methods: Thirty-seven adult subjects with chronic insomnia were recruited and randomly assigned to three groups, namely, Group A (6 pairs of acupoints: Ex-HN 22, HT 7, SP 6, KI 3, LR 3, and PC 6, bilaterally distributed); Group B (acupoints as for Group A other than PC 6, which was applied only on the left side [i.e., the dominant side of the PC meridian] and the addition of DU 20, which is the main tonic acupoint for integration of all the meridians); and a control group (sham LLLT). The subjects in the treatment groups (i.e., Groups A and B) received LLLT acupuncture and those in the control group received sham LLLT for 15 minutes per session twice a week for five weeks. The sleep quality of all the subjects was evaluated using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and a sleep diary. In addition, the sympathetic activity before and after every treatment sessions was measured using the Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
Results: All three groups showed an improved PSQI score. However, only Group A showed a significant reduction in the sleep onset latency and number of awakenings at night and a higher sleep efficiency and ESS score. Furthermore, Group B showed an increased low frequency power and normalized low frequency of the HRV signal and a lower normalized high frequency power, suggesting an increased sympathetic activity and decreased parasympathetic activity.
Conclusions: For chronic insomnia insomniacs, LLLT appears to shorten the sleep latency, decrease the number of awakening events at night, and improve the sleep efficiency.