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Yoga Improves Sleep

People who suffer from chronic insomnia tend to feel energized at night, both mentally and physically, so they find it difficult to wind down and fall asleep. A preliminary study published in Applied Psychophysiology Biofeedback (2004; [4], 269–78) evaluated the effect of daily yoga practice to determine whether it could lower levels of arousal and make it easier for subjects to fall asleep, stay asleep and sleep deeply.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston observed 20 participants with chronic insomnia for 10 weeks. For the first 2 weeks, participants kept a preliminary sleep-wake diary. During the next 8 weeks, they practiced a simple daily yoga program after a single training session with an instructor. By the end of the study, all aspects of the subjects’ sleep had improved significantly compared to pretreatment measures.

More research needs to be done on the value of yoga to assist people with sleep issues, since yoga, like meditation, is much less expensive than prescriptive medication treatment and does not have adverse side effects.

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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