Sleep disturbance is a major consequence of hot flashes among breast cancer survivors. This study evaluated the effects of electro-acupuncture (EA) versus gabapentin (GP) for sleep disturbances among breast cancer survivors experiencing daily hot flashes.
We analyzed data from a randomized controlled trial involving 58 breast cancer survivors experiencing bothersome hot flashes at least two times per day. Participants were randomly assigned to receive 8 weeks of EA or daily GP (total dose of 900 mg/d). The primary outcome was change in the total Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score between groups at week 8. Secondary outcomes include specific PSQI domains.
By the end of treatment at week 8, the mean reduction in PSQI total score was significantly greater in the EA group than the GP group (−2.6 vs −0.8, P = 0.044). The EA also had improved sleep latency (−0.5 vs 0.1, P = 0.041) and sleep efficiency (−0.6 vs 0.0, P = 0.05) compared with the GP group. By week 8, the EA group had improved sleep duration, less sleep disturbance, shorter sleep latency, decreased daytime dysfunction, improved sleep efficiency, and better sleep quality (P < 0.05 for all) compared with baseline, whereas the GP group improved in duration and sleep quality only (P < 0.05).
Among women experiencing hot flashes, the effects of EA are comparable with GP for improving sleep quality, specifically in the areas of sleep latency and efficiency. Larger randomized controlled trials with longer follow-ups are needed to confirm this preliminary finding.