Auricular acupuncture versus cognitive behavioural therapy in the discontinuation of hypnotic drug usage, and treatment effects on anxiety, depression and insomnia symptoms − a randomised controlled study

Ear Acupuncture was seen to reduce anxiety and depression in this study on 57 participants with insomnia disorder and long term use of hypnotic drugs. 74% of them managed to discontinue their hypnotic drug consumption post-treatment.

Bergdahl L et al, Eur Jn Int Med, Vol 16, 2017,  15-21
European Journal of Integrative Medicine



The interest in non-pharmacological interventions for insomnia disorder has increased. The aim was to assess the immediate treatment effects of auricular acupuncture (AA) and cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-i) regarding discontinuation of hypnotic usage and symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia.


Prospective randomised controlled study. Fifty-seven participants (mean age 61 years (SD 8.6)) with insomnia disorder and long-term use of non-benzodiazepine hypnotics received group-treatment with AA or CBT-i.

Pre- and post-treatment measures included symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia via self-report questionnaires: Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HAD-A, HAD-D) and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). Other sleep parameters and hypnotic consumption were measured with a sleep diary. Linear mixed models were performed to examine treatment effect over time within and between the groups.


Seventy-one percent of the AA participants and 84% of the CBT-i participants managed to discontinue their hypnotic drug consumption post-treatment. Symptoms of anxiety and depression decreased within the AA group (HAD-A (p < 0.05), HAD-D (p < 0.05)) and insomnia symptoms decreased within the CBT-i group (ISI (p < 0.001)). The only between-group difference occurred in ISI (p < 0.001), in favour of CBT-i. According to the within-group sleep diary results, the CBT-i group went to bed later (p < 0.001), fell asleep quicker (p < 0.05), increased their sleep efficiency (p < 0.001) and self-rated sleep quality (p < 0.05) post-treatment.


Both groups ended/maintained low hypnotic drug consumption post-treatment. Short-term reductions occurred in the AA group in anxiety and depression symptoms and in the CBT-i group regarding insomnia symptoms.