Acupuncturist Questions Lethargy

Is it normal to feel lethargic after my session?

My last session was a few hours ago, and I'm feeling really tired and lethargic after it. I haven't experienced this before after an acupuncture session, so this is a little concerning for me. Is feeling lethargic after a session normal?

24 Answers

Yes. It is more a feeling of relaxation that you are describing as lethargy. Acupuncture immediately takes the brain out of fight-or-flight and puts it into normal function/relaxation mode. If you have been stuck in fight-or-flight/stress mode for any length of time, this sudden shift to relaxation mode feels like fatigue. It is only your brain discontinuing pouring stress hormones throughout your body that keep you on alert and looking for the next attack, as is normal in fight-or-flight, and instead, your brain is now able to produce endorphins, the body's natural pain killing/relaxation inducing substances. This causes one to feel relaxed when one may not be used to feeling relaxed both in mind and in body. We are not designed to be in fight-or-flight 24/7, however, most of us are, preventing deep recuperative sleep, preventing proper digestion/elimination and of course curtailing ability to creatively think while in stress mode. If you are feeling "lethargic" after acupuncture, enjoy and prolong the sensation by taking it easy for a few hours. This is an absolutely normal and much needed effect of a good acupuncture treatment. Hope this helps. Mari
There is no "normal" reactions to acupuncture. Call the doctor who treated you and ask them the questions. They know how and what treatment you received and if it is a possibility for this reaction.
Yes, feeling tired is normal. Sometimes, it can be because you have not eaten before, or drank enough water during the time leading up to the appointment. Also, if trigger point therapy is involved, a lot more energy is being released, so it is normal to feel "out of it" or lethargic. Take your time leaving the office and be sure to drink plenty of water afterward.
Often, acupuncture can bring present the true state of energy in the body. So, if you have been burning the candle at both ends or under a lot of stress, the body may be signaling that you need to get a good night's rest. Also, it has been my own personal experience that a strong acupuncture treatment may induce a feeling of tiredness while the body is trying to integrate the changes induced by the acupuncture.

Be well,

Larissa Stewart, LAc
Thank you for your inquiry. Yes, it is normal for some people to feel lethargic after a treatment. It is best to go home and rest for two to four hours if possible and them resume your normal schedule.
Yes, it is normal. This is because your blood sugar probably decreased due to an increase in Dopamine. Always a good idea to eat before and after your treatment, hydrate, and take it easy.

If you are concerned you should contact the provider who treated you. Some people may feel more lethargic after a treatment especially if there is a deficiency present.
Good Morning,

1. After Acupuncture treatment to feel relaxed, calm is a very normal reaction. Some patients describe it as tired and sluggish.
2. After 2-3 treatments later most of patients describe they feel very relaxed but not sluggish anymore. Hope it helps.

Most people in America have a sleep debt.
That is, due to long hours, overwork, insomnia, late nights etc. we "owe" our bodies rest so that it can heal and rejuvenate. Sometimes after an acupuncture session you feel tired because in order to heal, your body is giving you notice that your sleep debt is "due".
You are simply resting so that you can heal and the tiredness should go once you just let yourself rest thoroughly.
Acupuncture has been shown in research to release endorphins for pain relief. However, acupuncture has been shown to react with the center of the brain for relaxation. While receiving acupuncture, the body goes and activates the parasympathetic system. This system is responsible for what is known as "Rest and Digest".
Acupuncture also has a very high influence on the vagus nerve (CN 10) which will also allow the body to enter a 'lethargic' state.
So to answer your question, yes it is absolutely normal (and not a bad thing) for your body to feel tired after the treatment.

This is why it is important to not engage in any physical activity or mentally draining though processes after a treatment. As stress relieving acupuncture may be, it is best to just go home and rest after your treatment and begin the next day feeling great!

Acupuncture will NOT always make you feel lethargic. It depends on how long the treatment is, which points were selected, and the setting of the treatment. All of these factors play a role on how lethargic one may be post-treatment. Please keep this in mind and let your acupuncturist know if this may bother you!
Patients usually feel very relax after acupuncture treatment. Your feeling of tired and lethargy maybe because you are nervous or you are hungry or you are exhausted before acupuncture treatment.
Hi there, always consult with your primary physician before seeking any other form of treatments. Having said that, it is not normal to feel lethargic after acupuncture treatments but sometimes it does occur. There are various reasons for this. One, a patient is hungry and hasn't eaten anything. Two, a patient is nervous and is afraid of needles. Three, a patient is tired already. Four, the acupuncturist may have used sedation technique on the patient. And there may be other reasons as well. Nevertheless if you feel tired or uncomfortable, please tell your acupuncturist immediately don't wait!
Yes. This can occur is some individuals. Were you being treated for a new conditions or were a different combination of points used? On your next visit discuss what you experienced with your acupuncturist.
Yes. There are a few different conditions that follow a session of acupuncture, and lethargy and tiredness is a very common one.
Yes, that reaction is quite normal. We call it acu-stoned in my office. It just means you got very relaxed and the acupuncture is doing it's job. If you are just too wiped out, mention it to your practitioner and they can probably make the treatment lighter by using smaller needles or even magnets.
Yes, acupuncture needles will trigger the brain to release chemicals for sleep or relaxation no matter what you seek acupuncture for. As a result, you will feel lethargic for 5-20'. In my professional experience, it happens about 10% of acupuncture patients who came in for the first acupuncture in their lives.
This effect can be due to the combination of needles used. It certainly is an expected effect of some treatments, so it's best to discuss the effect with your acupuncturist.
It can happen. The session might have been too "heavy" or combination of needles wasn't the best for that day. Make sure you communicate that with your practitioner so they can reassess their treatment plan.
Lethargy is not common, but it can occur after an acupuncture treatment. Either the treatment was too over-stimulating, no prior meal, weakened immune system, or low fluid intake can make you feel very tired. Please consult your acupuncturist and ask about their treatment strategy.
Sometimes, yes, a patient will feel a little lethargy or low energy after an acupuncture session. For folks that report this issue I usually recommend having a small snack either right before or just after treatment.

If having a little food around treatment time doesn't clear the issue up, have a conversation with your provider about what you're experiencing. Acupuncture treatment is often also diagnostic. It's important to provide feedback on your experience so your provider can make any adjustments that might be necessary.
It can be. I normally tell my patients to contact me in that case.
I have seen the same needle placement energize a person after a treatment and cause fatigue in that same person after another treatment. That is because the body needs something different in each session. Acupuncture moves qi and blood, cleanses the body and helps eliminate toxins and waste. Depending on the body's needs, fatigue can be part of the normal healing process and a positive sign that acupuncture is working.
Yes, acupuncture puts you into your body's real state. Because of that, sometimes you might come out super energized ready to take over the world and sometimes you feel tired and want to sleep and sometimes it is not very noticeable at all.

Basically, this is your body telling you to take it easy for a little while. Allow yourself to rest and you'll be fine soon.
It is normal and this how the body recuperates for some patients. That means your body responded really well.