The National Sleep Foundation reports that more than 50 percent of American adults suffer from symptoms of insomnia a few nights a week or more. Sleep experts recommend that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night for good health, yet many get considerably less. Inadequate sleep is associated with chronic health problems such as heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer.
The ancient practice of yoga nidra, also known as yogic sleep, is a meditative practice that results in conscious deep sleep. Current research suggests that yoga nidra can help relieve menstrual problems, diabetes symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In honor of National Sleep Awareness Week in March, here's three health benefits of yoga nidra.
Yoga Nidra Improves Menstrual Problems
A 2012 study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology reports yoga nidra may improve blood pressure and heart rate variables in patients with menstrual problems.
Researchers at the Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Medical University in India administered either a yoga nidra program or no yoga (control group) to 150 women with menstrual disturbances.
The yoga group participated in yoga nidra practice for 30 to 40 minutes daily, five days per week for six months. Autonomic testing was obtained from the participants before and after the study.
The researchers found that blood pressure, postural hypotension, sustained hand grip and heart rate variables were significantly improved in the yoga group.
Yoga Nidra May Promote Diabetes Management
A recent study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found yoga nidra may reduce the symptoms of diabetes and help control blood glucose levels.
Researchers at S.S. Medical College in India administered either a yoga nidra program and oral hypoglycemic drugs or oral hypoglycemic drugs alone to 41 Type 2 diabetics for 90 days.
The yoga group participated in yoga nidra practice for 30 minutes daily. Blood tests were obtained from the participants every 30 days.
The researchers found that the yoga plus hypoglycemic drugs group had improved diabetes symptoms compared to the drug-only group. Furthermore, blood glucose levels were significantly improved in the yoga group.
Yoga Nidra May Help Relieve PTSD Symptoms
A pilot study conducted at Walter Reed Army Medical Center reports yoga nidra may help relieve PTSD symptoms in soldiers returning home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Researchers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. administered 18 sessions of the Integrative Restoration (iREST) program to seven Iraq and Afghanistan war vets with PTSD for nine weeks. Tests assessing emotional responses and daily journals were obtained from the participants.
The Integrative Restoration (iREST) program was created by Dr. Richard Miller, a clinical psychologist, co-founder of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and past president of the Institute for Spirituality and Psychology.
The researchers found that PTSD symptoms -- including anxiety -- decreased and feelings of being in control increased among the participants, all of whom attended yoga nidra classes in addition to receiving their usual treatment for PTSD for the duration of the study. There was no control group.
Information about yoga nidra can be found at organizations such as Integrative Restoration Institute.
To learn more about yoga for sleep problems, download a free sample from Elaine Gavalas' book, The Yoga Minibook for Stress Relief.
You can buy Elaine Gavalas' books here.
Elaine Gavalas is an exercise physiologist, yoga therapist, weight management specialist, nutritionist and healthy recipe developer.
Follow Elaine Gavalas
For more by Elaine Gavalas, click here.
For more on yoga, click here.