A study conducted at Northwestern Memorial Hospital found that meditation is an effective behavioral treatment for insomnia. The findings were reported at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Insomnia affects more than 35-70 million Americans, and the same approximate rate, 10-20 per cent of the population are impacted in Europe.
It is a condition that appears to be getting worse. Only 35 per cent of Americans slept a full eight hours or more per night during the work week. Approximately 56% have one or more symptoms of insomnia a few nights a week or more.
Almost 60 per cent of children, in particular teens, report feeling fatigued during the day.
Also, women experience insomnia more frequently than men. Sleep disturbances do worsen equally as men and women move into the latter decades of life. Insomnia occurs much more often in people over 65 compared to those between 18 and 34, as our sleep patterns changes over time.
The study’s results indicate that patients saw improvements in subjective sleep quality and sleep diary parameters while practicing meditation. Sleep latency, total sleep time, total wake time, wake after sleep onset, sleep efficiency, sleep quality and depression improved in patients who used meditation.
According to the principal investigator Ramadevi Gourineni, MD, director of the insomnia program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Evanston, Ill., insomnia is believed to be a 24-hour problem of hyperarousal, and elevated measures of arousals are seen throughout the day.
“Results of the study show that teaching deep relaxation techniques during the daytime can help improve sleep at night,” said Gourineni.
The study acquired information from 11 healthy subjects between the ages of 25 and 45 years with chronic primary insomnia. Participants were divided into two intervention groups for two months: Kriya Yoga (a form of meditation that is used to focus internalized attention and has been shown to reduce measures of arousal) and health education. Subjective measures of sleep and depression were collected at baseline and after the two-month period.
All participants received education regarding healthy sleep practices. The members of the health education group were also provided with additional health-related information, including how to improve health through exercise, nutrition, weight loss, and stress management.
The results show that patients experienced improvements in all measurable parameters, indicated a higher quality of sleep in the meditating group.
Abstract Title: Effects of Meditation on Sleep in Individuals with Chronic Insomnia