What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a common condition marked by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. People with chronic insomnia experience such difficulties at least three nights a week for more than a month.
In addition to leaving you low in energy during the daytime, insomnia may lead to anxiety, irritability, lack of focus, and memory problems.
The most common sleep complaint in the U.S., insomnia is estimated to affect about 30 to 40 percent of adults each year.
Mind-Body Solutions for Better Sleeo
In recent years, a number of studies have explored the use of mind-body therapies in treatment of insomnia. Here's a look at some key findings.
For a preliminary study published in 2004, people with chronic insomnia practiced yoga each day for eight weeks. Among the 20 participants completing the study, researchers observed significant improvements in several sleep-related factors (including total sleep time).
In a 2005 study of older adults, scientists discovered that those practicing yoga had a significant decrease in the time taken to fall asleep, an increase in the total number of hours slept, and an improvement in the feeling of being rested in the morning.
2) Tai Chi
Tai chi (an ancient Chinese martial art that combines slow, graceful movements with deep breathing and meditation) may help enhance sleep quality and protect against insomnia in older adults.
In a 2008 study of 112 healthy older adults, researchers found that 25 weeks of tai chi practice improved sleep quality among those with moderate sleep complaints. An earlier study, published in 2004, showed that older adults who practiced tai chi for 60 minutes three times a week for six months increased their sleep duration and decreased the time it took to fall asleep at night.
Combining mindfulness meditation with cognitive behavioral therapy may have long-term benefits for people with chronic insomnia, according to a 2008 study. Analyzing sleep and meditation diaries provided by 21 participants, researchers observed that several sleep-related benefits were maintained throughout a 12-month period following treatment with mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy (a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the role of your own thoughts in how you feel and behave).
Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that involves focusing on your mind on the present. Here's how to practice mindfulness meditation.
Other Remedies for Better Sleep
Learn more about natural sleep aids.
Additionally, certain lifestyle changes (such as exercising regularly and managing stress) may help keep insomnia in check. Improving your sleep hygiene (by limiting your caffeine intake, establishing a regular bedtime, and keeping your bedroom as dark as possible at night, for example) may also help you achieve quality sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
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Li F, Fisher KJ, Harmer P, Irbe D, Tearse RG, Weimer C. "Tai chi and self-rated quality of sleep and daytime sleepiness in older adults: a randomized controlled trial." J Am Geriatr Soc. 2004 52(6):892-900.
Manjunath NK, Telles S. "Influence of Yoga and Ayurveda on self-rated sleep in a geriatric population." Indian J Med Res. 2005 121(5):683-90.
Ong JC, Shapiro SL, Manber R. "Mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia: a naturalistic 12-month follow-up." Explore (NY). 2009 5(1):30-6.