Q: I suffer from a parasomnia - night terrors and the GP suggested acupuncture may help. Can you please advise if it might? I have had a sleep study and this is an official medical diagnosis.
A: Night terrors are one of a number of disorders, such as sleepwalking, which occur alongside sleep, and are not simply bad nightmares, as any sufferer like you can attest. There is not a great deal of evidence from the world of formal research about the effect of acupuncture on night terrors. They are more common in children than adults, and there are many anecdotal reports of acupuncture having a beneficial effect on them, but these are not enough for us to make any claims to efficacy - the advertising rules are very strict on this point!
However, it is fair to say that night terrors are not an invention on the 20th century, and people have always suffered from them. Chinese medicine, which works from an entirely different paradigm (conceptual system and system of diagnosis and treatment) has a number of ways of fitting the descriptions which people give of their night terror symptoms into clearly defined categories. Most involved a disturbance in the qi, the energy flow of the body, and tend to describe night terrors and similar conditions in terms of the qi not descending properly at night time and its disturbance then leading to forms of unusual behaviour and experience during sleep. Even in the absence of specific defined syndromes, a Chinese medicine practitioner would see the symptom as a sign that the whole system was out of balance, and use his or her skills to determine where amd what imbalances there were in the system and attempt to understand the overall pattern and then correct them.
The chances are that the problem is not an isolated phenomenon in the person, and there will be other imbalances which the person may not even recognise as such which make the whole pattern a great deal clearer when a practitioner can see the person and discuss their symptoms face to face. We would recommend that your best option is to seek out a BAcC member local to you and see if they can spare a few minutes, hopefully without charge, to see whether they think they can help you.