Acupressure for Insomnia

24 Sep 2021

Have you experienced insomnia? Habit Health Acupuncturist & Massage Therapist, Manson Williamson, shares how acupressure can help relieve symptoms of insomnia.

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can affect around one-quarter of New Zealand adults (Paine, Gander, Harris, & Reid, 2005). Symptoms of insomnia may include difficulty falling or staying asleep, sleepiness during the day, difficulty to focus or pay attention, as well as other symptoms (Mayo Clinic, 2016). We understand the stress that sleep deprivation can have on someone’s quality of life. Acupuncturist and Massage Therapist, Manson Williamson, shares some insight into how acupressure may help to improve your quality of sleep. 

The importance of sleep 

Getting a full night’s rest of approximately seven to eight hours sleep each night is important for many reasons. Sleep allows your body to recharge, repair and feel refreshed and ready for the following day. The right amount of sleep helps us function better, remain healthy and fight off illness and disease.  

Many studies show the adverse effects long term sleep deprivation may have on the body. People who have chronic insomnia may find they are at increased risk for mental health challenges such as depression or anxiety. Sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of physical health challenges such as heart disease and high blood pressure. The risk for diabetes is also increased (Insomnia (Rarunga Moe) | Health Navigator NZ, n.d.). If you suspect you may be experiencing insomnia, it’s important to seek help from your health care provider as soon as you can.  

Treatments for insomnia 

There are many forms of treatment for insomnia, including relaxation techniques, light therapy, sleep restriction, acupuncture, acupressure and many more. We recommend that you speak with your health care provider to find out what treatment might work best for you. If you want to know more about the symptoms, causes or treatments for insomnia, check out this article from Health Navigator.

Acupressure is a tool that may help reduce insomnia symptoms alongside other treatments your health care provider suggests for you. It’s an easy and safe practice you can do in the comfort of your own home before bedtime, and can be especially helpful on more restless nights.  

What is acupressure?  

Acupressure, along with acupuncture, is one of the many tools used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a technique that provides manual stimulation of acupoints, the same points accessed with fine needling in acupuncture. In the traditional Chinese medical framework, acupoints are selected and stimulated for therapeutic effect, causing a relaxation response (Cheuk et al., 2012). 

Many studies have shown that through stimulating an acupoint, you may experience a number of positive biological responses in the body. One positive response from acupoint stimulation is increase melatonin production, a hormone that promotes restful sleep(Cheuk et al., 2012). 

Safety of acupressure 

A side effect that may result from acupressure is a small amount of bruising. Studies have shown that adverse side effects with acupressure are rare, making it a safe and complementary treatment you can try at home alongside your current primary care plan for insomnia. (Cheuk et al., 2012; GFM NataleP, 2019). 

Acupressure for insomnia 

As mentioned above, acupressure is a safe and effective tool that may help reduce insomnia symptoms.  

Studies showed when compared to no treatment or placebo, acupressure resulted in more participants experiencing an improvement in sleep quality. Acupressure may improve the time it takes to fall asleep and the duration of your sleep. This finding was supported by a few studies. (GFM NataleP, 2019) 

If you’d like to try acupressure yourself, check out the video in this link. Massage Therapist, Manson Williamson, demonstrates where to locate some of your acupoints and the correct technique.  

If you enjoyed the effects of acupressure and would like to try acupuncture, book some time with Manson Williamson at our Habit Health clinic in Wellington.  

Find out more.


Mayo Clinic. (2016, 10 15). Insomnia. Retrieved from Mayo Clinic: 

Paine, S.-J., Gander, P. H., Harris, R. B., & Reid, P. (2005). Prevalence and consequences of insomnia in New Zealand: disparities between Maori and non-Maori. National Library of Medicine. 

Cheuk, D. K., Yeung, W.-F., Chung, K., & Wong, V. (2012). Acupuncture for insomnia. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 

GFM NataleP, S. (2019). Cochrane Library Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Interventions for improving sleep quality in people with chronic kidney disease (Review) Interventions for improving sleep quality in people with chronic kidney disease (Review). 

Insomnia | MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Retrieved August 25, 2021, from 

Insomnia (rarunga moe) | Health Navigator NZ. (n.d.). Retrieved August 25, 2021, from https://www.healthnavigator.or... 

Paine, S. J., Gander, P. H., Harris, R. B., & Reid, P. (2005). Prevalence and consequences of insomnia in New Zealand: Disparities between Maori and non-Maori. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 29(1), 22–28.