Growing evidence supports the use of mind-body therapies—yoga, qigong, tai chi and others—to improve the quality and quantity of sleep for women in midlife.
As many as 40%-50% of women aged 45-60 report that they sleep poorly, and the statistics probably underrepresent the problem, says a review of studies published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing (2013; doi: 10.1177/0898010113493504). Mind-body therapies are modalities that foster the mind’s capacity to affect physical functions and symptoms.
Authors of the research review—from the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, and Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut—are recommending that healthcare providers who work with women with sleep disturbances become more familiar with holistic approaches that have been shown to reduce sleep disturbances:
- tai chi
- mindfulness meditation
- guided imagery
The researchers note that some individuals with mental health issues or unrealistic expectations may experience an adverse effect from these practices and should therefore use them only in consultation with a healthcare professional.
Lead study author Kathleen O’Connor Frame, MSN, APRN, adult and women's health nurse practitioner at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, told IDEA Fitness Journal, “I encourage mind-body practice instructors to continue the discussion regarding the benefits of such exercises for women in this population. More classes could be developed specifically for these women . . . My hope is that future research will expand the clinical benefits of mind-body therapies so that these services are more widely available, as well as potentially covered by insurance programs.”