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Yoga may help relieve insomnia in menopausal women, study finds

tree_yogaOne of my favorite evening wind-down rituals is practicing what restorative yoga master teacher Judith Hanson Lasater calls "Instant Maui": lying on your back with padding underneath your sacrum and elevating your legs bent at a 90-degree angle - lower legs resting on the seat of a chair or sofa - to induce the relaxation response.

So I was interested to read how yoga may provide benefit to a particular group of women: those who are menopausal and suffering from insomnia. In the MsFLASH (Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health) Network randomized controlled trial, taking 90-minute weekly yoga classes and practicing at home for 12 weeks was linked to less insomnia among a group of 249 healthy, previously inactive menopausal women. Night sweats and hot flashes - two other common symptoms of menopause - were not found to be affected by the practice.

In the NIH-funded study, which appears online in the journal Menopause, participants were randomized to try yoga, aerobic exercise or neither, and given either an omega-3 fatty acid supplement or a placebo. As noted in a recent Group Health Research Institute release, the link between yoga and better sleep was the only statistically significant finding - but it could be an important one for insomnia sufferers.

"Hormone therapy is the only Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for hot flashes and night sweats, and fewer women are opting for hormone therapy these days," lead author Katherine Newton, PhD, commented.

Previously: Large federal analysis: Hormone therapy shouldn’t be used for chronic-disease preventionAnxiety, poor sleep, and time can affect accuracy of women’s self-reports of menopause symptoms and Acupuncture appears helpful at easing hot flashes
Photo by Oblong Land Conservancy

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