The Science of Sleep is a newly emerging branch of neuroscience that has resulted in a deeper understanding of how important sleep is to our physical and mental health ( One of the unfortunate side-effects of opioid use is a disruption in regular sleep patterns. Re-establishing a healthy structure of sleep after stopping opioid use is critical in a full recovery from addiction leading to a happy, healthy life.

Many patients begin taking opioids because they have developed chronic pain or have recently experienced trauma or a surgical procedure. We have all experienced some degree of pain and there is no question that pain disrupts sleep. Most patients initially experience the sweet bliss of a much needed full night’s sleep when they first take painkillers. Unfortunately, as time goes on there is a paradoxical backlash as opioids have significant detrimental effects on the sleep–wake cycle  resulting in sleep disturbances. Addtionally, long-term opioid use may lead to sleep apnea and/or RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome), either of which will disrupt healthy sleep patterns; restless leg syndrome is one of the more annoying symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

Find Dr. Browne’s Pain Remedies linked here

How to Effectively Treat Insomnia Due to Opioid Use Naturally Using Acupuncture

The most common reason that someone visits my acupuncture clinic is because they are experiencing pain; the most common question pain patients ask of me is, “I sure am sleeping better! Could it be the acupuncture?” The answer is Yes; acupuncture is an effective insomnia treatment because of it’s direct effects on the autonomic nervous system. A study in the Journal of Sleep concluded that, “…acupuncture regulates various neurotransmitters and hormonal factors, including endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine, adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, acetylcholine (Ach), melatonin, substance P, other neuropeptides, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and nitric oxide, all of which play major roles in sleep regulation, higher cortical function, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and the somatovisceral reflexes”.

Visit Dr. Catherine Browne, DAOM’s acupuncture clinic in North Carolina for expert opioid withdrawal and recovery treatments!

In addition to acupuncture, my patients receive a supporting herbal prescription. Additionally, I instruct patients to use positive lifestyle practices such as meditation and regular exercise such as yoga and tai qi, or qi gong. It usually takes a few months, but we typically resolve the initial pain and resulting insomnia inside of 6 months time with regular acupuncture treatments. Considering the other possible alternatives such as sleep medications and their potential side effects, acupuncture and herbal therapy are an excellent natural healing modality for sleep disturbances due to opioid dependency.


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