The health benefits of yoga are touted in every nook and corner of the Internet, which definitely contributes to the fast expansion of the practice. As more people are converting to yoga adepts, researchers keep up with the trend and investigate what effects yoga exercises have on health. A recent addition to the list of benefits is improvement of sleep quality.
Image Credit: shutterstock.com / Luna Vandoorne
Poor sleep is common among people on a low income. While anyone can be affected by it, low income communities are prone to health problems stemming from inadequate sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to other disorders and diseases, but the problem is often neglected, as those who lack sleep consider it to be an issue closely tied to the lack of spare time. Many people who do not sleep enough do not realize it is a significant risk factor and prefer to wait until the problem resolves on its own, or a vacation comes.
Yoga + Sleep Education = Better Sleep
In a new research aimed at developing a program that would allow people on a low income to improve their quality of sleep without much time spent on and investing money in it. A team of scientists from Harvard carried out a study, which involved 23 citizens of Boston who slept less than six hours a day. The specialists developed an intervention comprising three parts: the first stage was attending sleep health education sessions (1 hour), the second stage was telephone coaching (15 min), and the third stage was four yoga sessions a week, 1 hour each. The cycle was repeated for six weeks. The meetings were held in buildings located in the same district, so the participants did not have to spend a lot of time going there.
All the volunteers underwent tests prior to and after the program; their quality of sleep, mood, stress level, and well-being were measured and assessed. The group of participants was predominantly female, and the average age was forty-one. Many of them did not have a college degree (more than 80%).
After the course was completed, the scientists compared the volunteers’ results with the data they had gathered before the program started. They found that the intervention helped improve their quality of sleep significantly: before the program, the Boston citizens used to sleep 5.3 hours a day, whereas after the program the figure was 7.2 hours. Besides, they woke up during the night less often, their sleep behavior improved, and so did other aspects of their sleep.
Sleep hygiene and introducing yoga sessions helped the participants to feel more relaxed, and they were really enthusiastic about making yoga their routine. 73.7% of those involved rated the program as helpful.
Better sleep, anyone?
Since yoga does not require any investments, and it does not take much time to complete a session, it can be a good option for everyone on a low income, especially if their quality of sleep is poor. The scientists noted that sleep health education was an important part of the project, as many attendants learned a lot and made changes to the environment they sleep in, which also contributed to the result. Perhaps, authorities could introduce free interventions for vulnerable groups who do not sleep enough.
The team was surprised to see how eager the participants were to try the program, and announced that they are currently carrying out a study involving a larger cohort, which is aimed at finding out whether yoga’s contribution is significant, or it is only the sleep hygiene that matters.
There is no need to wait for the team to publish the results of their project, as you can introduce yoga routine now and see for yourself whether it helps in your case. Here is an 8-minute workout designed to help you sleep better, and more is available here.
8-Minute Workout: Yoga for Better Sleep – Fitnessmagazine.com