Yoga For Sleep And Relaxation Yoga For Sleep And Relaxation

For people struggling with insomnia, practicing yoga may promote sounder sleep. A mind-body practice with roots in ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India), yoga combines physical postures, deep breathing, and meditation to help relax the body and mind. Some research shows that yoga may help reduce stress and manage certain health conditions (including high blood pressure and depression, in addition to sleep problems).

Yoga for Sleep

Because stress often contributes to sleep problems, it's thought that yoga may help foster healthier sleep by reducing stress levels. Although only a few studies have tested yoga's effects on sleep, the existing research suggests that yoga may offer some benefit in treatment of sleep troubles. Here's a look at several key study findings:

1) Yoga for Insomnia

In a 2004 preliminary study involving 20 people with chronic insomnia, researchers found that eight weeks of daily yoga practice led to significant improvements in several sleep-related factors (such as total sleep time and number of awakenings in the middle of the night).

2) Yoga for Sleep During Pregnancy

Yoga may help ease sleep problems among pregnant women, according to a 2010 study. For the study, 15 women in their second or third trimesters attended weekly mindfulness meditation and prenatal yoga classes for seven weeks. Study results showed that participants who took up yoga in their second trimester had significant improvement in sleep, but that those who began the yoga program in their third trimester had poorer sleep in spite of their meditation/yoga practice.

3) Yoga for Sleep in Older Populations

Yoga may promote sounder sleep among older adults, according to a 2010 study of 69 elderly residents of assisted-living facilities. Compared to a control group, study members who took part in three 70-minute yoga sessions each week for six months had significant improvements in sleep quality (as well as a decrease in depression and daytime dysfunction).

4) Yoga for Sleep in Cancer Patients

Sleep problems are common among people coping with cancer. In a 2004 study of 39 lymphoma patients, researchers found that those who participated in seven weekly yoga sessions had significantly less sleep disturbance (compared to those assigned to a waitlist). However, there was no difference between the two groups in terms of anxiety, depression, or fatigue.

Should You Use Yoga for Sleep Problems?

If you have trouble sleeping at least three nights a week for more than a month, talk to your doctor about how to treat your sleep problems. While yoga practice could help you find sounder sleep, you may need to use other therapies and make certain lifestyle changes in order to effectively alleviate your insomnia.

by Williams Smiths
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