"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Short yoga meditation improves sleep, strengthens memory: learning

December 18, 2023 – People who followed a brief day by day guided meditation video that taught them to actively calm down the body improved their memory, response time and sleep in only two weeks, in keeping with a small latest study.

Participants within the study spent 20 minutes in a meditative state with their eyes closed during a day by day practice called yoga nidra. At the top of two weeks, researchers observed improvements in 10 cognitive measures, and people who took part within the study fell asleep faster, slept longer and spent more time in deep “delta wave” sleep. (Delta waves are the slow brain rhythms during deep sleep that occur because the brain and body get better.)

The study published last week in Plus one, didn’t rely solely on subjective sleep diaries to measure changes in people's sleep and cognitive performance. The researchers also used objective measurements, including 10 standard cognitive tests, electroencephalogram (EEG) and polysomnography, the latter being the sensor-based technology utilized in overnight sleep studies. The study was led by Karuna Datta, MD, PhD, a professor on the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune, India.

“Yoga Nidra practice is a type of pratyahara, [which is a] Sensory withdrawal technique. It is an easy exercise to do. It is not mindfulness,” Datta said in an email, noting that “it has huge potential.”

In order for the practice to advertise sleep and cognition, he said, it is necessary to follow a way that is understood to work. In their study, participants practiced yoga nidra for 20 minutes, followed by a video recording that also included a complete of 6 minutes of instruction before and after meditation.

The results suggest an easy treatment for the long-standing problem of the results of poor sleep on the functioning of the brain.

Considered a pilot study as a consequence of its small size, the evaluation included data from 38 young men in India, all of whom kept a sleep diary before and after starting two weeks of day by day yoga nidra sessions. The men also underwent many cognitive tests before and after training, and a few also underwent an EEG test to evaluate brain activity and overnight polysomnography. The men within the study had no existing sleep disorders, depression or other psychiatric disorders, or acute illnesses that might affect their sleep patterns. Women were excluded as a consequence of known effects of the menstrual cycle on sleep.

At the top of the study, the boys reported falling asleep faster, sleeping longer, and spending more time sleeping after they were lying in bed. This is a measure called sleep efficiency. When they woke up at night, they said they went back to sleep quicker. But Datta said probably the most interesting findings was that folks within the study spent more of their sleep time within the deep phase often called delta sleep.

“Delta wave during sleep improves sleep quality. This may be why participants subjectively report an improvement in sleep,” she said.

Throughout the study, people were assessed on ten cognitive functions and response times for all ten measures improved by the top of the study, an indication that the brain was processing faster. After practicing yoga nidra, they performed higher on working memory tests, suggesting they were higher in a position to use short-term memory to retain information while completing other tasks.

The study didn’t determine the reason for the boys's improved cognitive performance, but researchers suspected that yoga nidra practice could have been helpful, especially since some test results were higher after daytime yoga practice than when measured early within the morning. It can also be possible that cognitive performance was impaired by improved sleep, the authors write, which led, for instance, to a strengthening of connections within the brain.

The Yoga Nidra Video The treatment utilized in the study instructs practitioners to shut their eyes and calm down the body, but to not sleep. People are guided to hearken to nearby sounds and picture the space they’re in, to silently express a choice or intention, and to grow to be aware of, visualize, and calm down individual parts of the body. The body part leisure instructions start with each finger of the best hand, then the palm and work through your entire right side of the body all the way down to the ankle, the only real of the foot and every individual toe.

Study participants were trained within the practice of Yoga Nidra after which practiced alone for nearly all of the study. None of them had any previous experience with yoga nidra; They were considered beginners.

According to the authors, the constraints of the study were the small sample size and the dearth of a control group. The authors wrote that larger studies could help determine whether practicing yoga nidra could help individuals with mild learning difficulties or cognitive decline.