Background: Sleep is recognized as an all-important physiological process, which also contributes to maintaining several bodily functions and systems. According to the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), also known as the most widely used tool in the field of subjective assessment of self-perceived sleep quality, a combination of acupoints could be more effective than single acupoint treatment in improving sleep quality.
Methods: The present study was based on the extracted eligible studies rooted in a previous meta-analysis that worked on the basis of association rule mining and examined the potential kernel acupoint combinations for improving sleep quality.
Results: Depending on the Apriori algorithm, we summarized 26 acupoints as binary data from the 32 eligible studies based on a previous meta-analysis and analyzed them. The top 10 most frequently selected acupoints were HT7, SP6, PC6, KI1, GV20, EM5, EX-HN3, EX-HN16, KI3, and MA-TF1. Furthermore, as deduced from 21 association rules, the primary relevant rules in the combination of acupoints are (EX-HN3, EX-HN16)=>(GV20) and (HT7, KI1)=>(PC6).
Conclusions: In order to use acupuncture to improve sleep quality, integrating (EX-HN3, EX-HN16, GV20) with (HT7, KI1, PC6) acupoints could be deemed as the kernel acupoint combination.