How can yoga improve sleep in cancer survivors?

(February 28, 2013)

Most cancer survivors complain of insomnia and daytime drowsiness even two years after they have completed chemotherapy and radiation. There are a number of studies that have been conducted to find alternate ways to relieve the constant fatigue that cancer patients struggle with. A recent study (though small) suggests that yoga is a safe and non-invasive way to improve sleep in cancer survivors. The study showed that in addition to their usual follow-up care, cancer patients who practiced yoga three times a week for a period of four weeks reported less fatigue and better sleep than those who didn’t practice yoga. They also took fewer sleeping pills, the study noted.

The yoga classes used in this study were largely of the hatha yoga school. Being more restorative in nature, this form of yoga taught breathing exercises and meditation. The similar benefits of yoga were not studied with reference to more strenuous practices such as power yoga or hot yoga. While the study did not reveal how exactly yoga improved sleep and fatigue, researchers believe that the combination of exercise, meditation and meeting fellow patients under a social setting all helped. Yoga also helps reduce stress hormone levels that may be interfering with sleep patterns. While a lot more research is still needed to study how yoga affects cancer survivors, the initial results are definitely encouraging.

Submitted by C D on February 28, 2013 at 12:07

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