Faradization for insomnia: a sleep neurology history

J Clin Sleep Med. 2021 Feb 1;17(2):249-254. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.8958.


Insomnia is highly prevalent and challenging to treat. We typically regard insomnia as a disorder of the modern world, but physicians and patients have been struggling with this malady for millennia. Here we present the curious historical practice of using electrization or faradization to treat insomnia. We present methods of application, hypotheses regarding mechanism of action, and historical case reports and case series to better understand this phenomenon. We put faradization for insomnia in the context of the modern use of electrical therapies to support and facilitate human health in multiple different health care arenas. Last, we examine current efforts to use these antiquated concepts to address insomnia through transcranial direct current stimulation and cranial electrical stimulation.

Keywords: electrization; faradization; history; insomnia; treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neurology*
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders*
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation*