Yoga is a popular practice not only for those seeking mind tranquility, but also those who want to strengthen and tone their body. Initial studies have shown that yoga may also be beneficial for relieving menopause symptoms, including depression and anxiety.1
Conducted by Brazilian researchers from the University of São Paulo, this trial evaluated the effects of yoga on menopausal insomnia, which has not been extensively studied yet.
Forty-four postmenopausal women, between the ages of 50 to 65, volunteered to participate in this trial. They were diagnosed with insomnia and had an apnea-hypopnea index of less than 15 (which is classified as mild apnea).
Researchers divided women into three groups and assigned different treatments to each group for four months. In addition, all groups received a daily dose of 500 mg of calcium.
- The passive stretching group underwent two, 1-hour stretching sessions weekly with a physical therapist.
- The yoga group had two, 1-hour yoga sessions per week with a yoga teacher.
- The control group had no yoga or stretching regimens assigned.
The yoga sequence that was taught in this trial was based on yogasana and Tibetan techniques, including stretching techniques, called asanas, and a breathing technique, called bhastrika.
Before and after the study, women filled out questionnaires about the effects of treatment on experienced symptoms and quality of life. They also underwent a comprehensive sleep study, called polysomnography.
After four months of treatment, women in the yoga group had major improvements, including lower severity scores for insomnia, reduced menopause symptom scores, higher scores for quality of life, and improved stress responses (particularly, the resistance phase of stress).
For reference, the resistance phase of stress relates to the body's attempt to deal with stressors in order to maintain balance.
Women in the passive stretching group had modest improvements in several measured criteria, but not as significant as those in the yoga group.
No major changes were seen in the control group.
What Does It Mean?
This study shows that doing yoga is effective for reducing menopausal insomnia as well as other symptoms of the transition. By doing so, it has shown to improve postmenopausal women's quality of life.
Being the first study exploring the effects of yoga on postmenopausal insomnia, it was published in the North American Menopause Society journal, Menopause.
- Menopause. (2012). Yoga decrease insomnia in postmenopausal women: a randomized clinical trial. Retrieved January 14, 2021 from https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2012/02000/Yoga_decreases_insomnia_in_postmenopausal_women__.13.aspx
- Menopause. (2009). Yoga for menopausal symptoms: a systematic review. Retrieved January 14, 2021 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19169169/