Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial
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Sympathomodulatory effects of Saam acupuncture on heart rate variability in night-shift-working nurses.

OBJECTIVE: We assessed the effects of Saam (traditional Korean) acupuncture on the autonomic nervous system in night-shift nurses using power-spectral heart-rate variability (HRV) analysis.

METHODS: This study had a 2 × 4 cross-over design with a series of six (n = 1) controlled trials. Six night-shift nurses were randomly divided into two groups, and each nurse received four acupuncture treatments on the third day of night-shift work. One group started with Saam acupuncture (gallbladder jeonggyeok), while the other started with sham acupuncture. Saam acupuncture and sham acupuncture were applied in turn. HRV was measured before and after treatment. For statistical analysis, the results of the two groups were combined, and a Bayesian model was used to compare the changes in HRV values before and after treatment, between Saam and sham acupuncture.

RESULTS: As the ratio of low- to high-frequency power (LF/HF) for HRV increased on the third day of night-shift work in the pilot study, HRV measurements were made on the third day. Compared with sham acupuncture, Saam acupuncture reduced sympathetic activity; the overall median treatment effect estimate in LF normalised units decreased by -17.4 (confidence interval (CI): -26.67, -8.725) and that for LF/HF decreased by -1.691 (CI: -3.222, -0.3789). The overall median treatment effect estimate in HF normalised units increased by 17.41 (CI: 6.393, 27.13) with Saam acupuncture, suggesting an increase in parasympathetic activity.

CONCLUSION: Saam acupuncture may attenuate the imbalance between sympathetic and parasympathetic activities induced by night-shift work in nurses.

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