Case series or clinical trials of patients with insomnia treated with acupuncture were eligible for inclusion. Studies that mentioned acupuncture, but in which the main treatment modality was complementary alternative medicine were excluded. Studies that focused on other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, night terrors or somnambulism were excluded.
Control interventions in the included studies consisted of sham control (with or without other control groups), usual care, conversation, education, medication and soaked seeds. Patients had primary insomnia, comorbid insomnia (post-stroke, pregnancy, end-stage renal disease), unspecified insomnia and insomnia associated with a particular traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis (interior-stirring by phlegm heat). Acupuncture treatments included regular body acupuncture, rolling needle or intradermal needle, acupoint taping with herbal preparation, auricular treatment with seed pressing or magnetic pearls and acupressure. Studies included a wide range of co-interventions. Treatment points ranged from one to the entire meridian. Most studies used a standardised treatment paradigm; some used an individualised approach. Treatment duration ranged from one to 60 treatments. Outcome measures assessed were single administration sleep questionnaires (for example, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality index), clinical global impression, sleep diary, actigraphy and polysomnography.
The authors stated neither how the papers were selected for the review nor how many reviewers performed the selection.