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Both acupuncture which is invasive and involves inserted needles and acupressure which is non-invasive and involves mechanical pressure can potentially help reduce sleep disturbance in patients with cancer. A recent analysis of published clinical trials suggests that acupressure may have a greater effect than acupuncture.

The analysis, which is published in Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, included 24 randomized controlled trials involving 2,002 patients.

The findings suggest that nurses and other health professionals in oncology settings should be provided with acupressure training to help patients who are experiencing sleep problems.

“Based on available evidence, acupressure may be a more promising approach than acupuncture for reducing sleep disturbance in patients with cancer,” said corresponding author Denise Shuk Ting Cheung, BNurs, Ph.D., RN, of the University of Hong Kong. “Future studies should focus on the differential mechanisms of action of acupressure and acupuncture and link them to the multifactorial causes of sleep disturbance in patients with cancer.”