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.