Improve Sleep with Tai Chi

Improve Sleep with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Tai chi, a lifestyle intervention that targets stress that can lead to insomnia, was also found to reduce inflammation, and did so by reducing the expression of inflammation at the cellular level and by reversing activation of inflammatory signaling pathways.” – Science Daily

 

It is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. Yet over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and about half of these have a chronic disorder. It has been estimated that about 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But, these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to improve sleep. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality. In addition, exercise has been shown to improve sleep.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient mindfulness practices involving slow prescribed movements. They are gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Since Tai Chi and Qigong are both mindfulness practices and exercises, they may be effective treatments to improve sleep.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi Improves Sleep Quality in Healthy Adults and Patients with Chronic Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5570448/, Raman and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the ability of Tai Chi practice to improve sleep quality. They found 11 published studies, 9 of which were randomized controlled trials.

 

They reported that the research demonstrated that Tai Chi practice significantly improves both self-report and objective measures of sleep quality in a variety of people with and without illness. The improvements included decreases in the time to go to sleep and the use of sleeping pills and increases in sleep duration. No significant negative side effects were reported. Hence, Tai Chi practice appears to be a safe and effective treatment to improve sleep in both well and sickly people.

 

These are exciting and important findings that support the use of Tai Chi practice for the improvement in sleep. The mechanism by which Tai Chi practice produces sleep improvement is not known. The ability of mindfulness practices to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress may remove this obstacle to a good night’s sleep and thereby improve sleep. Regardless, it is clear that Tai Chi practice may be a solution to the chronic sleep problems experienced by many.

 

So, improve sleep with Tai Chi.

 

“The practice of Chi Gong can be used as a spiritual aid to help connect with a higher power, which can provide comfort and peace for those having difficulty sleeping. Even for individuals who are not spiritual, the mental, emotional and physical benefits are worth the effort in order to obtain restful sleep.” – Sifu Romain

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Raman, G., Zhang, Y., Minichiello, V. J., D’Ambrosio, C. M., & Wang, C. (2013). Tai Chi Improves Sleep Quality in Healthy Adults and Patients with Chronic Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy, 2(6), 141. http://doi.org/10.4172/2167-0277.1000141

 

Abstract

Background

Physical activity and exercise appear to improve sleep quality. However, the quantitative effects of Tai Chi on sleep quality in the adult population have rarely been examined. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the effects of Tai Chi on sleep quality in healthy adults and disease populations.

Methods

Medline, Cochrane Central databases, and review of references were searched through July 31, 2013. English-language studies of all designs evaluating Tai Chi’s effect on sleep outcomes in adults were examined. Data were extracted and verified by 2 reviewers. Extracted information included study setting and design, population characteristics, type and duration of interventions, outcomes, risk of bias and main results. Random effect models meta-analysis was used to assess the magnitude of treatment effect when at least 3 trials reported on the same sleep outcomes.

Results

Eleven studies (9 randomized and 2 non-randomized trials) totaling 994 subjects published between 2004 and 2012 were identified. All studies except one reported Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index. Nine randomized trials reported that 1.5 to 3 hour each week for a duration of 6 to 24 weeks of Tai Chi significantly improved sleep quality (Effect Size, 0.89; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.28 to 1.50), in community-dwelling healthy participants and in patients with chronic conditions. Improvement in health outcomes including physical performance, pain reduction, and psychological well-being occurred in the Tai Chi group compared with various controls.

Limitations

Studies were heterogeneous and some trials were lacking in methodological rigor.

Conclusions

Tai Chi significantly improved sleep quality in both healthy adults and patients with chronic health conditions, which suggests that Tai Chi may be considered as an alternative behavioral therapy in the treatment of insomnia. High-quality, well-controlled randomized trials are needed to better inform clinical decisions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5570448/

Reduce Obesity with Yoga


Reduce Obesity with Yoga

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

“You get to thinking that yoga and its health benefits, such as stress reduction and improved fitness, are best for thin people, and not so much for the 36 percent of U.S. adults who are obese. Not true. Yoga is for all types of shapes and sizes if you just know how to start.” – Laura McMullen

Obesity is a serious health problem. In the U.S. the incidence of obesity has more than doubled over the last 35 years to currently around 35% of the population. Obesity has been found to shorten life expectancy by eight years and extreme obesity by 14 years. This occurs because obesity is associated with cardiovascular problems such as coronary heart disease and hypertension, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and others.

Obviously, there is a need for effective treatments to prevent or treat obesity. But, despite copious research and a myriad of dietary and exercise programs, there still is no safe and effective treatment. Mindfulness is known to be associated with lower risk for obesity, alter eating behavior and improve health in obesity. This suggests that mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for overeating and obesity alone or in combination with other therapies. Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of physical and psychological benefits. These include significant loss in weight and body mass index (BMI), resting metabolism, and body fat in obese women with Type 2 diabetes and improve health in the obese. Hence, it would seem reasonable to investigate the benefits of yoga therapy on the weight and body composition of the obese.

In today’s Research News article “Sleep quality and body composition variations in obese male adults after 14 weeks of yoga intervention: A randomized controlled trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2017;volume=10;issue=3;spage=128;epage=137;aulast=Rshikesan, Rshikesan and colleagues recruited obese adult male participants and randomly assigned them to receive either no treatment or integrated yoga therapy for 1½ h for 5 days in a week, for 14 weeks. Yoga therapy includes relaxation, postures, breathing practice, and meditation. They were measured before and after treatment for body composition and sleep quality.

They found that the yoga therapy group had statistically significant reductions in obesity, including body weight, body mass index, and mineral content and increases in sleep quality and efficiency. In addition, there were no adverse events produced by the yoga practice. Hence, they found integrated yoga therapy to be a safe and effective treatment for obesity in adult males.

The benefits of yoga practice, though, appear to be small. The yoga group on average only lost about 2 pounds of body weight despite intensive treatment over 14 weeks. So, it doesn’t appear from this study that integrated yoga therapy is a cost-effective treatment. But, yoga practice is known to produce many improvements in the physiology that were not measured in the present study. These include improvements in cardiovascular symptoms, joint problems, and diabetes. These benefits would tend to counteract the negative health consequences of obesity.

So, although there are suggestions here that integrated yoga therapy may be useful in the treatment of obesity it’s cost-effectiveness is still questionable.

“Yoga is designed to help practitioner reduce body fat, increase flexibility and increase strength. The benefits of yoga to obese people also include increased blood flow, reduced pain and increased respiratory function.” – Hannah Wahlig

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available at the Contemplative Studies Blog http://contemplative-studies.org/wp/
They are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

Study Summary

Rshikesan P B, Subramanya P, Singh D. Sleep quality and body composition variations in obese male adults after 14 weeks of yoga intervention: A randomized controlled trial. Int J Yoga 2017;10:128-37

Background: Obesity is a big challenge all over the world. It is associated with many noncommunicable diseases. Yoga known to be add-on treatment may be effective for obesity control. Aim: To assess the effect of integrated approach of yoga therapy (IAYT) for body composition and quality of sleep in adult obese male. Subjects and Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted for 14 weeks on obese male of urban setting. Eighty individuals were randomly divided into two groups, i.e., yoga group (n = 40; age; 40.03 ± 8.74 years, body mass index [BMI] 28.7 ± 2.35 kg/m2) and control group (age; 42.20 ± 12.06 years, BMI 27.70 ± 2.05 kg/m2). The IAYT was imparted to yoga group for 1½ hour for 5 days in a week for 14 weeks. The control group continued their regular activities. The body composition by InBody R20 and sleep quality by Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) were assessed. Statistical analysis was done for within and between groups using SPSS version 21. The correlation analysis was done on the difference in pre-post values. Results: The results showed that weight (P = 0.004), BMI (P = 0.008), bone mass (P = 0.017), obesity degree (P = 0.005), and mineral mass (P = 0.046) were improved in yoga group and no change in control group (P > 0.05). The global score of PSQI improved (P = 0.017) in yoga group alone. Conclusion: The results indicate the beneficial effects of IAYT on body composition and sleep quality in obese males. The yoga practice may reduce obesity with the improvement in quality of life.
http://www.ijoy.org.in/article.asp?issn=0973-6131;year=2017;volume=10;issue=3;spage=128;epage=137;aulast=Rshikesan

Reduce Insomnia with Mindfulness

Reduce Insomnia with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Dr. Benson recommends practicing mindfulness during the day, ideally for 20 minutes, the same amount suggested in the new study. “The idea is to create a reflex to more easily bring forth a sense of relaxation,” he says. That way, it’s easier to evoke the relaxation response at night when you can’t sleep. In fact, the relaxation response is so, well, relaxing that your daytime practice should be done sitting up or moving (as in yoga or tai chi) so as to avoid nodding off.” – Julie Corliss

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. The resultant stress can impair sleep. Indeed, it is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. Yet over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and about half of these have a chronic disorder. It has been estimated that 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, and 10% have chronic insomnia

 

Insomnia is more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, decreased quality of life, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents, and increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But, these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to treat insomnia. Mindfulness-based practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. The importance of insomnia underscores the need to further investigate safe and effective alternatives to drugs.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Quest for Mindful Sleep: A Critical Synthesis of the Impact of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Insomnia.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300077/, Garland and colleagues review and summarize the published research literature on the effects of mindfulness-based practices on sleep. They identify 6 randomized controlled trials. They report that the literature finds that mindfulness-based practices “reduce insomnia severity and sleep disturbance in healthy individuals, people with chronic disease, and older adults.” The findings appear to

stronger in studies with participants who had diagnosed insomnia or sleep disturbance. So, the more severe the problem, the greater the benefit.

 

Mindfulness practices are thought to improve sleep and reduce insomnia by a number of mechanisms. Mindfulness appear to reduce levels of physiological and psychological arousal which can interfere with sleep. In addition, mindfulness is known to reduce worry and rumination which can also lead to restlessness and sleep disturbance. Finally, mindfulness may improve sleep as a result of increasing the ability to let go of negative emotions. Regardless of the mechanisms it is clear that mindfulness training may be a useful treatment for insomnia and sleep disturbance.

 

So, reduce insomnia with mindfulness.

 

“Given the absence of side effects and the positive potential benefits of mindfulnessthat extend beyond sleep, we encourage people with chronic insomnia, particularly those unable or unwilling to use sleep medications, to consider mindfulness training” – Cynthia Gross

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Garland, S. N., Zhou, E. S., Gonzalez, B. D., & Rodriguez, N. (2016). The Quest for Mindful Sleep: A Critical Synthesis of the Impact of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Insomnia. Current Sleep Medicine Reports, 2(3), 142–151. http://doi.org/10.1007/s40675-016-0050-3

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) for insomnia and sleep disturbances are receiving increasing clinical and research attention. This paper provides a critical appraisal of this growing area investigating the application of MBIs for people with insomnia and sleep disturbance. First, we discuss the theoretical justification for how mindfulness meditation practice may affect sleep processes. Second, we provide a focused review of literature published between January 1, 2012 and April 1, 2016 examining the impact of MBIs on sleep, broken down by whether insomnia or sleep disturbance was a primary or secondary outcome. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300077/

Improve Sleep Problems in Adolescents with Mindfulness

Improve Sleep Problems in Adolescents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By taking this mindful attitude, sleep is facilitated by simply being aware of the moment-to-moment experience of relaxing into the bed, without judging or being critical of that experience, so that the mind can gently slip into sleep.“ – John Cline

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. This stress may be amplified for adolescents. Adolescence can be a difficult time, fraught with challenges. During this time, the child transitions to young adulthood; including the development of intellectual, psychological, physical, and social abilities and characteristics. There are so many changes occurring during this time that the child can feel stressed and overwhelmed and unable to cope with all that is required.

 

The resultant stress can impair sleep. It is estimated that 14% of adolescents experience insomnia and 5.3% meet the diagnostic criteria for a sleep disorder. Insomnia is more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, decreased quality of life, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, and increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents. It also can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But, these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects, including potential addiction. So, there is a need to find better methods to treat insomnia. Contemplative practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. The importance of insomnia underscores the need to further investigate safe and effective alternatives to drugs for adolescents.

 

In today’s Research News article “The SENSE Study: Treatment mechanisms of a cognitive behavioral and mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention for at-risk adolescents.” (See summary below) Blake and colleagues recruited adolescents (mean age 14.5 years) from schools who had clinically significant anxiety and sleep disorder. They randomly assigned them to receive either 7 weekly 90-minute group sessions of a mindfulness-based sleep improvement program or study skills education. The sleep improvement intervention employs a cognitive behavioral approach, incorporating sleep education, sleep hygiene, stimulus control, and cognitive restructuring, with added mindfulness, savoring, and anxiety specific components. Participants were encouraged to continue practice at home. The adolescents were measured before and after treatment for sleep (actiwatch and self-report), anxiety, and pre-sleep arousal.

 

They found that after the intervention, in comparison to the study skills education group, the mindfulness-based sleep improvement group had significantly improved sleep, measured objectively with actiwatch or subjectively with self-report, better sleep hygiene awareness, lower anxiety, pre-sleep somatic arousal, and less pre-sleep cognitive arousal. Using a sophisticated statistical technique, they found that the improvements in sleep and anxiety were produced as a result of the improvements in pre-sleep somatic arousal, and pre-sleep cognitive arousal.

 

These are exciting results, particularly as the effect sizes were moderate to large and anxiety and sleep disruption are so prevalent in adolescents. This suggests that the mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention produces big improvements in a significant problem for adolescents. They further suggest that these improvements were mediated by improvements in pre-sleep arousal levels. So, the mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention appears to relax the adolescents so that they can sleep better. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress, reduce anxiety levels, and improve emotion regulation. So, these effects on arousal are not unexpected. But, the findings clearly suggest that improvements in mindfulness are very important to reduce anxiety and improve sleep in adolescents.

 

So, improve sleep problems in adolescents with mindfulness

 

“Mindfulness delivered improvements to sleep—including reduced insomnia, improved sleep quality, increased sleep time, and better sleep efficiency—that were comparable to sleep medication.” – Michael Breus

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Matthew Blake, Orli Schwartz, Joanna M. Waloszek, Monika Raniti, Julian G. Simmons, Greg Murray, Laura Blake, M.Teach., Ronald E. Dahl, M.D., Richard Bootzin, Dana L. McMakin, Paul Dudgeon, John Trinder, Nicholas B. Allen. The SENSE Study: Treatment mechanisms of a cognitive behavioral and mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention for at-risk adolescents. Sleep 2017 zsx061. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsx061

 

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this study was to test whether a cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based sleep intervention could improve sleep and anxiety on school nights in a group of at-risk adolescents. We also examined whether benefits to sleep and anxiety would be mediated by improvements in sleep hygiene awareness and pre-sleep hyperarousal.

METHOD:

Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial conducted with 123 adolescent participants (Female=60%; Mean Age=14.48) who had high levels of sleep problems and anxiety symptoms. Participants were randomized into a sleep improvement intervention (n=63) or active control ‘study skills’ intervention (n=60). Pre-and-post intervention, participants completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS), Sleep Beliefs Scale (SBS), and Pre-Sleep Hyperarousal Scale (PSAS), and wore an actiwatch and completed a sleep diary for five school nights.

RESULTS:

The sleep intervention condition was associated with significantly greater improvements in actigraphy-measured sleep onset latency (SOLobj), sleep diary measured sleep efficiency (SEsubj), PSQI, SCAS, SBS, and PSAS, with medium-large effect sizes. Improvements in the PSQI and SCAS were specifically mediated by the measured improvements in PSAS that resulted from the intervention. Improvements in SOLobj and SEsubj were not specifically related to improvements in any of the putative treatment mechanisms.

CONCLUSION:

This study provides evidence that pre-sleep arousal but not sleep hygiene awareness is important for adolescents’ perceived sleep quality, and could be a target for new treatments of adolescent sleep problems.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28431122

Improve Sleep with Mindfulness

Improve Sleep with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness meditation appears to be a viable treatment option for adults with chronic insomnia and could provide an alternative to traditional treatments for insomnia.” – Ethan Green

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. The resultant stress can impair sleep. Indeed, it is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. Yet over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and about half of these have a chronic disorder. It has been estimated that 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, and 10% have chronic insomnia

 

Insomnia is more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, decreased quality of life, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents, and increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But, these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to treat insomnia. Contemplative practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. The importance of insomnia underscores the need to further investigate safe and effective alternatives to drugs.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Quest for Mindful Sleep: A Critical Synthesis of the Impact of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Insomnia.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300077/

Garland and colleagues review the published research literature on the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on sleep. They identified 7 studies, 6 of which used randomized controlled trials. In most of these studies the mindfulness training consisted of either Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) programs. They concluded that these studies demonstrated that mindfulness training can produce significant improvement in the severity of insomnia and sleep disturbance in healthy individuals, people with chronic disease, and with older adults.

 

These are encouraging results that suggest that mindfulness training is effective for improving sleep in a variety of sick and health individuals of varying ages. It is not known exactly how mindfulness acts to improve sleep. But, it can be speculated that the ability of mindfulness training to improve the psychological and physiological responses to stress may be involved.

Since high levels of stress are almost universal in modern populations and stress has been shown to contribute to sleep disturbance, it would seem reasonable to believe that reduction of the individual’s response to stress would improve sleep. Hence, mindfulness training may be an important alternative to drugs in the treatment of sleep problems. This improvement of sleep, in turn, can contribute to the individual’s overall health and well-being.

 

So, improve sleep with mindfulness.

 

“By taking this mindful attitude, sleep is facilitated by simply being aware of the moment-to-moment experience of relaxing into the bed, without judging or being critical of that experience, so that the mind can gently slip into sleep.” – John Cline

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

Sheila N. Garland, Eric S. Zhou, Brian D. Gonzalez, Nicole Rodriguez. The Quest for Mindful Sleep: A Critical Synthesis of the Impact of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Insomnia. Curr Sleep Med Rep. 2016 Sep; 2(3): 142–151.. doi: 10.1007/s40675-016-0050-3

 

Abstract

Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) for insomnia and sleep disturbances are receiving increasing clinical and research attention. This paper provides a critical appraisal of this growing area investigating the application of MBIs for people with insomnia and sleep disturbance. First, we discuss the theoretical justification for how mindfulness meditation practice may affect sleep processes. Second, we provide a focused review of literature published between January 1, 2012 and April 1, 2016 examining the impact of MBIs on sleep, broken down by whether insomnia or sleep disturbance was a primary or secondary outcome. Recommendations for future research are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300077/

 

Improve Sleep Quality with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“With growing pressures at work coupled with smartphone technology, it is really difficult to ‘switch off’ because you continue to receive work-related messages in the evening. Meditation programs such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) have been shown to be effective in treating anxiety, insomnia, and other psychological disorders” – Ute Hülsheger

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. The resultant stress can impair sleep. Indeed, it is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. Yet over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and about half of these have a chronic disorder. It has been estimated that 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, and 10% have chronic insomnia

 

Insomnia is more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, decreased quality of life, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents, and increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But, these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to treat insomnia. Contemplative practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. The importance of insomnia underscores the need to further investigate safe and effective alternatives to drugs.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness meditation for insomnia: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” See:

https://www.facebook.com/ContemplativeStudiesCenter/photos/a.628903887133541.1073741828.627681673922429/1373740115983244/?type=3&theater

or see summary below. Gong and colleagues reviewed the published research literature on the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation on insomnia. They performed a meta-analysis on six randomized controlled trials with meditation training of 6 to 8 weeks. They found that when active control groups were included in the analysis sleep quality and total wake time was significantly improved with meditation practice. While when only studies employing wait list or attention control conditions were included, the analysis showed significant improvements in the amount of time to go to sleep, sleep efficiency, and sleep quality.  Hence, the research literature reported that mindfulness meditation produced significant improvements not in amount of sleep but primarily in the quality of sleep and with meditators falling asleep faster.

 

How does meditation practice improve sleep? One obvious possible mechanism is by stress reduction. Meditation practice has been shown to reduce both physiological and psychological responses to stress and stress is known to interfere with sleep. Another possibility is that meditation practice is known to reduce mind wandering and intrusive thoughts which are often a problem in trying to go to sleep. Additionally, meditation practice is known to improve emotion regulation, and powerful emotions can interfere with sleep. Regardless, of the mechanism, meditation practice is inexpensive and safe, having very few adverse effects, and have many other beneficial effects in addition to improving sleep. There is not much to lose and potentially a great deal to gain.

 

So, improve sleep quality with meditation.

 

“Insomnia patients who completed MBSR were able to learn and use a variety of meditation techniques to fall asleep faster at bedtime, return to sleep sooner if awakened in the middle of the night, awaken more refreshed, and better cope with occasional episodes of sleeplessness.” – Amber Hubbling

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Gong H, Ni CX, Liu YZ, Zhang Y, Su WJ, Lian YJ, Peng W, Jiang CL. Mindfulness meditation for insomnia: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.. J Psychosom Res. 2016 Oct;89:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2016.07.016. Epub 2016 Jul 26.

 

Highlights

  • This meta-analysiscollates studies and provides general information on the efficacy of MM for insomnia.
  • MM can contribute to modestly improving sleep parameters.
  • MM may be a promising option for the treatment of insomnia.

Abstract

Background: Insomnia is a widespread and debilitating condition that affects sleep quality and daily productivity. Although mindfulness meditation (MM) has been suggested as a potentially effective supplement to medical treatment for insomnia, no comprehensively quantitative research has been conducted in this field. Therefore, we performed a meta-analysis on the findings of related randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate the effects of MM on insomnia.

Methods: Related publications in PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library and PsycINFO were searched up to July 2015. To calculate the standardized mean differences (SMDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), we used a fixed effect model when heterogeneity was negligible and a random effect model when heterogeneity was significant.

Results: A total of 330 participants in 6 RCTs that met the selection criteria were included in this meta-analysis. Analysis of overall effect revealed that MM significantly improved total wake time and sleep quality, but had no significant effects on sleep onset latency, total sleep time, wake after sleep onset, sleep efficiency, total wake time, ISI, PSQI and DBAS. Subgroup analyses showed that although there were no significant differences between MM and control groups in terms of total sleep time, significant effects were found in total wake time, sleep onset latency, sleep quality, sleep efficiency, and PSQI global score (absolute value of SMD range: 0.44–1.09, all p < 0.05).

Conclusions: The results suggest that MM may mildly improve some sleep parameters in patients with insomnia. MM can serve as an auxiliary treatment to medication for sleep complaints.

 

Improve Breast Cancer Survivor Sleep with Mindfulness

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The mindfulness elements of accepting things as they are, turning towards rather than away from difficult emotional experience, and embracing change as a constant are helpful for cancer patients who are may be facing difficult realities. The emotion-regulation strategies practiced in mindfulness interventions help to prevent worry about the future and rumination over past events, and allow patients to live more fully in the present moment, regardless of what lies ahead.” – Tracey Aaron

 

People who are cancer survivors face a myriad of issues including sleep difficulties. It is estimated that one third to one half of cancer survivors experience sleep problems. About 12.5% of women in the U.S. develop invasive breast cancer over their lifetimes and every year about 40,000 women die. Indeed, more women in the U.S. die from breast cancer than from any other cancer, besides lung cancer. It is encouraging, however, that the death rates have been decreasing for decades from improved detection and treatment of breast cancer. Five-year survival rates are now at around 95%.

 

The improved survival rates mean that more women are now living with cancer. This can be difficult as breast cancer survivors can have to deal with the consequences of chemotherapy, and often experience increased fatigue, pain, and bone loss, reduced fertility, difficulty with weight maintenance, damage to the lymphatic system, heightened fear of reoccurrence, and an alteration of their body image. As a result, survivors often develop sleep problems, including difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep. These sleep disturbances can interfere with recovery as they can contribute to stress, fatigue, depression, and poorer treatment outcomes. So, it is important to address sleep disturbance in cancer survivors.

 

Mindfulness training has shown promise in treating sleep disorders. It has also been shown to be helpful with cancer treatment and recovery. So, it would make sense to test whether mindfulness training might be effective in treating sleep disturbances in breast cancer survivors. In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR(BC)) on Objective and Subjective Sleep Parameters in Women with Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” See:

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or below or view the full text of the study at:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4487655/

Lengacher and colleagues performed a randomized controlled trial of the effects of an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program on the sleep of breast cancer survivors. Patients completed a questionnaire regarding their sleep and a sleep diary. They also wore and activity monitor for three days as an objective measure of sleep. Measurements were obtained before treatment and again at 6 and 12 weeks after treatment.

 

They found that MBSR training produced a significant improvement in sleep as assessed with the objective measure (activity monitor) at both 6 and 12 weeks after treatment. The improvements included better sleep efficiency and percentage of time asleep, and also fewer waking bouts. The self-report measures of sleep also showed improvement but were not statistically significant. Since direct, objective measures do not rely on memory or judgement, they are considered more accurate. Thus, the results show that MBSR training improves sleep in breast cancer survivors.

 

These are interesting and potentially important useful results. Improving sleep in cancer survivors may contribute to their health and well-being and their ability to stay in remission. How MBSR has this effect on sleep was not investigated. It can, however, be speculated that MBSR may effect sleep by reducing the patients psychological and physiological responses to stress. This would help to relax the patients making it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. Alternatively, MBSR has been shown to improve emotion regulation, improving the individual’s ability to completely feel the emotion, yet respond to it adaptively. This may help sleep by allowing the individual to better cope with the anxiety, fear, and worry associated with being a cancer survivor.

 

So, improve breast cancer survivor sleep with mindfulness

 

“I am now more easily able to mindfully feel both the difficult and the pleasant emotions of this journey—the uncertainty, the worries and the fear, the relief as I recover, the acceptance of a new normal, and noticing my strength and resilience—each informing the other. Writing about it now I see that having experienced cancer brought with it some gifts: a new sense of integration, a new sense of knowing myself—grounded in the present—with hope for the future.” – Esther Brandon

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts

 

Study Summary

Lengacher, C. A., Reich, R. R., Paterson, C. L., Jim, H. S., Ramesar, S., Alinat, C. B., … Kip, K. E. (2015). The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR(BC)) on Objective and Subjective Sleep Parameters in Women with Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Psycho-Oncology,24(4), 424–432. http://doi.org/10.1002/pon.3603

 

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of MBSR(BC) on multiple measures of objective and subjective sleep parameters among breast cancer survivors (BCS).

Methods: Data were collected using a two-armed randomized controlled design among BCS enrolled in either a six week MBSR(BC) program or a Usual Care (UC) group with a 12-week follow-up. The present analysis is a subset of the larger parent trial (ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01177124). Seventy-nine BCS participants (mean age 57 years), stages 0-III, were randomly assigned to either the formal (in-class) six week MBSR(BC) program or UC. Subjective sleep parameters (SSP) (i.e., sleep diaries and the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI)) and objective sleep parameters (OSP) (i.e., actigraphy) were measured at baseline, six weeks and 12 weeks after completing the MBSR(BC) or UC program.

Results: Results showed indications of a positive effect of MBSR(BC) on OSP at 12 weeks on sleep efficiency (78.2% MBSR(BC) group vs. 74.6% UC group, p=0.04), percent of sleep time (81.0% MBSR(BC) vs. 77.4% UC, p=0.02) and less number waking bouts (93.5 in MBSR(BC) vs. 118.6 in the UC group, p<0.01). Small non-significant improvements were found in SSP in the MBSR(BC) group from baseline to 6 weeks (PSQI total score, p=0.09). No significant relationship was observed between minutes of MBSR(BC) practice and SSP or OSP.

Conclusions: These data suggest that MBSR(BC) may be an efficacious treatment to improve objective and subjective sleep parameters in BCS.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4487655/

 

 

Recover from Work with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“All this data suggest mindfulness has real impactful changes on our minds and bodies. And it’s helped make mindfulness more kosher with the corporate world, where it might’ve previously been considered new-agey. Mindful workers report higher levels of happiness and productivity” – David Gelles

 

We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our overall well-being, including our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the work environment. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is primarily due to the fact that stress is epidemic in the workplace. A recent Harris poll found that 80 percent of workers feel stressed about one or more things in the workplace. This stress can lead to physical and psychological problems for managers and employees, including fatigue, sleep problems, depression, absenteeism, lower productivity, lower job satisfaction, and personal and professional burnout. Indeed, 46.4% of employees, report having psychological distress.

 

Mindfulness training of employees is a potential help with work related stress. It has been shown to reduce the psychological and physical reactions to stress overall and particularly in the workplace and to reduce burnout. A problem in implementing mindfulness programs in the workplace is the time required for the training. This makes many managers reticent to try it. So, it is important to develop programs that do not seriously impact on work time. A potential solution is to train mindfulness on-line. This is feasible as mindfulness training over the internet has been found to be effective for anxiety depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet-Based Instructor-Led Mindfulness for Work-Related Rumination, Fatigue, and Sleep: Assessing Facets of Mindfulness as Mechanisms of Change. A Randomized Waitlist Control Trial.” See:

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or see below

Querstret and colleagues randomly assigned full-time working adults to either receive a 4-week internet based mindfulness training or as a wait-list control. The mindfulness training was conducted on-line interactively led by experienced mindfulness instructors and was composed of elements from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).

 

They found that the mindfulness training produced a significant increase in the mindfulness facets of acting with awareness, non-judging, and describing. Recovery from work was also significantly impacted by the mindfulness training with lower levels of emotional rumination and rumination after work about work-related issues, and lower levels of acute and chronic fatigue, and higher levels of sleep quality. These improvements were maintained 3 and 6 months following the end of mindfulness training. Finally, they found that the mindfulness training had its effects by altering the acting with awareness facet of mindfulness which, in turn, affected the work recovery variables.

 

These results demonstrate that an on-line mindfulness training program can have large and sustained effects on work-related problems. The fact that the program was conducted on-line is significant as these programs can be conducted without taking time away from work. This is important to employers and makes it more likely that such a program will be adopted.

 

It is interesting that the program appeared to work by affecting acting with awareness. This suggests that working with awareness is a key. By staying focused on their work tasks in the present moment the individual may be better able to perform them and thereby reduce stress and its consequent effects on after-work psychological processes. It is also known that mindfulness programs by themselves can lower the psychological and physiological effects of stress and improve emotion regulation, allowing the worker to experience their emotions but act adaptively in response to them. All of these effects of mindfulness training may add together to markedly improve the workers’ recovery from the stress of work.

 

So, recover from work with mindfulness.

 

“In this age of constant distractions and long hours, it’s difficult to find even a few minutes of time to reflect. Yet finding that time and space can help ease the stresses of your demanding working life.” -Peter Jaret

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

Study Summary

Querstret, D., Cropley, M., & Fife-Schaw, C. (2016, April 7). Internet-Based Instructor-Led Mindfulness for Work-Related Rumination, Fatigue, and Sleep: Assessing Facets of Mindfulness as Mechanisms of Change. A Randomized Waitlist Control Trial. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000028

 

This study aimed to extend our theoretical understanding of how mindfulness-based interventions exert their positive influence on measures of occupational health. Employing a randomized waitlist control study design, we sought to (a) assess an Internet-based instructor-led mindfulness intervention for its effect on key factors associated with “recovery from work,” specifically, work-related rumination, fatigue, and sleep quality; (b) assess different facets of mindfulness (acting with awareness, describing, nonjudging, and nonreacting) as mechanisms of change; and (c) assess whether the effect of the intervention was maintained over time by following up our participants after 3 and 6 months. Participants who completed the mindfulness intervention (n 60) reported significantly lower levels of work-related rumination and fatigue, and significantly higher levels of sleep quality, when compared with waitlist control participants (n 58). Effects of the intervention were maintained at 3- and 6-month follow-up with medium to large effect sizes. The effect of the intervention was primarily explained by increased levels of only 1 facet of mindfulness (acting with awareness). This study provides support for online mindfulness interventions to aid recovery from work and furthers our understanding with regard to how mindfulness interventions exert their positive effects.

 

Mindful Cure for Insomnia

Mindful Cure for Insomnia

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“By taking this mindful attitude, sleep is facilitated by simply being aware of the moment-to-moment experience of relaxing into the bed, without judging or being critical of that experience, so that the mind can gently slip into sleep.” – John Cline

 

Modern society has become more around-the-clock and more complex producing considerable pressure and stress on the individual. The advent of the internet and smart phones has exacerbated the problem. The resultant stress can impair sleep. Indeed, it is estimated that over half of Americans sleep too little due to stress. As a result, people today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago. Not having a good night’s sleep has adverse effects upon the individual’s health, well-being, and happiness. Yet over 70 million Americans suffer from disorders of sleep and about half of these have a chronic disorder. These disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. It has been estimated that 30 to 35% of adults have brief symptoms of insomnia, 15 to 20% have a short-term insomnia disorder, and 10% have chronic insomnia

 

Sleep problems are more than just an irritant. Sleep deprivation is associated with decreased alertness and a consequent reduction in performance of even simple tasks, increased difficulties with memory and problem solving, decreased quality of life, increased likelihood of accidental injury including automobile accidents, and increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also places stress on relationships, affecting the sleep of the older individuals sleep partner. Finally, insomnia can lead to anxiety about sleep itself. This is stressful and can produce even more anxiety about being able to sleep. This can become a vicious cycle, where not being able to sleep induces anxiety and stress about going to sleep which in turn makes it harder to go to sleep which reinforces the anxiety and on and on.

 

Obviously, people in modern society need to get more and better quality sleep. About 4% of Americans revert to sleeping pills. But, these do not always produce high quality sleep and can have problematic side effects. So, there is a need to find better methods to improve sleep even in the face of modern stressors. Contemplative practices have been reported to improve sleep amount and quality and help with insomnia. The importance of insomnia underscores the need to further investigate safe and effective alternatives to drugs.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness Meditation and CBT for Insomnia: A Naturalistic 12-Month Follow-up”

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Or see below, or for full text see

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4766838/

Ong and colleagues treated a group of adults with insomnia with combination of mindfulness training with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) treatment. The mindfulness training consisted of body scan, sitting and walking meditation. CBT-I consisted of identifying and changing the thoughts and the behaviors that affect the ability to sleep or sleep well. The intervention was conducted in 2-hour weekly sessions over a 6-week period.

 

They found that after the treatment there were significant improvements in sleep quality, daytime tiredness pre-sleep arousal, effort to go to sleep, and insomnia severity. In addition, they found that the higher the level of mindfulness the lower the levels of daytime sleepiness and daytime tiredness. Importantly, these improvements were maintained 6 and 12-month after the end of treatment.

 

These findings are exciting and demonstrate that insomnia can be effectively treated without drugs and the treatment can have lasting effects. But, since there wasn’t a control group or condition, caution must be exercised in reaching firm conclusions. In addition, since there wasn’t a comparison with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) alone without the added mindfulness training, it is impossible to reach a conclusion regarding the efficacy of either component by themselves. It is unclear whether it was the CBT-I or the mindfulness training, or both, or some form of confound such as a placebo effect or simply the passage of time that were responsible for the effects. Further more tightly controlled research is needed to clarify these important points.

 

Regardless, the study by Ong and colleagues reinforces the findings of previous research that mindfulness may be a safe and effective treatment for insomnia with long-term effectivenes.

 

“Exploring the practice of mindfulness requires no religious affiliation or philosophical belief. It’s a gentle, simple, practical method of paying attention — one that may deliver profound benefits for our waking and sleeping lives.” – Michael J. Breus

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

 

Study Summary

Ong, J. C., Shapiro, S. L., & Manber, R. (2009). Mindfulness Meditation and CBT for Insomnia: A Naturalistic 12-Month Follow-up. Explore (New York, N.Y.), 5(1), 30–36. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2008.10.004

 

Abstract

A unique intervention combining mindfulness meditation with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) has been shown to have acute benefits at post-treatment in an open label study. The aim of the present study was to examine the long-term effects of this integrated intervention on measures of sleep and sleep-related distress in an attempt to characterize the natural course of insomnia following this treatment and to identify predictors of poor long-term outcome. Analyses were conducted on 21 participants who provided follow-up data at 6 and 12 months post treatment. At each time point, participants completed one week of sleep and meditation diaries and questionnaires related to mindfulness, sleep, and sleep-related distress, including the Pre-Sleep Arousal Scale (PSAS), Glasgow Sleep Effort Scale (GSES), Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS), and the Insomnia Episode Questionnaire. Analyses examining the pattern of change across time (baseline, end-of-treatment, 6 month, and 12 month) revealed that several sleep-related benefits were maintained during the 12-month follow-up period. Participants who reported at least one insomnia episode (≥ 1 month) during the follow-up period had higher scores on the PSAS (p < .05) and GSES (p < .05) at end-of-treatment compared to those with no insomnia episodes. Correlations between mindfulness skills and insomnia symptoms revealed significant negative correlations (p < .05) between mindfulness skills and daytime sleepiness at each of the three time points but not with nocturnal symptoms of insomnia. These results suggest that most sleep-related benefits of an intervention combining CBT-I and mindfulness meditation were maintained during the 12-month follow-up period with indications that higher pre-sleep arousal and sleep effort at end-of-treatment constitute a risk for occurrence of insomnia during the 12 months following treatment.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4766838/

 

Alter the Sleeping Brain with Meditation

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

A simple meditation for sleep . . . is to focus on the breath while lying in bed as you are preparing to go to sleep. Follow the breath moving into and out of the body. As you are being aware of the breath just allow yourself to sink into the bed with each breath. . . . By taking this mindful attitude, sleep is facilitated by simply being aware of the moment-to-moment experience of relaxing into the bed, without judging or being critical of that experience, so that the mind can gently slip into sleep.” – John Cline

 

We spend about a third of our lives in sleep, but, we know very little about it. It is known that sleep is not a unitary phenomenon. Rather, it involves several different states that can be characterized by differences in physiological activation, neural activity, and subjective experiences. In the waking state the nervous system shows EEG activity that is termed low voltage fast activity. The electrical activity recorded from the scalp is rapidly changing but only with very small size waves. When we close our eyes and relax the heart rate and blood pressure decline and muscles relax. In this state the EEG shows a characteristic waveform known as the alpha rhythm, which is a large change in voltage recorded that oscillates at a rate of 8 to 12 cycles per second. Subjectively, the mind slows down and often day dreaming occurs.

 

When sleep first occurs, the individual enters into a stage called slow-wave sleep, sometimes called non-REM sleep. The heart rate and blood pressure decline even further and the muscles become very soft and relaxed. In this state the EEG shows a characteristic waveform known as the theta rhythm, which is a large change in voltage recorded that oscillates at a rate of 4 to 8 cycles per second. Subjectively, the mind enters into a state of slow and distorted experiences. It is here that nightmares can occur. As the individual goes even deeper into sleep something remarkable happens as the individual enters into rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). Here the muscles become extremely inhibited and flaccid, but the eyes move rapidly under the closed eyelids as if the individual was looking around. At the same time the heart rate and blood pressure increase and become very variable and sometimes very high. Subjectively this is where elaborate dreams occur.

 

It has been shown that mindfulness training, including meditation practice, affects sleep and tends to improve sleep and reduce insomnia. In today’s Research News article “Short Meditation Trainings Enhance Non-REM Sleep Low-Frequency Oscillations”

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Or see below or see full text at:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0148961

Dentico and colleagues investigate the effects of long-term meditation on the electrical activity of the brain (EEG) during sleep. They recorded the EEG during sleep before and after 2-days of intensive meditation. They found that after meditation, the EEG activity over the frontal and parietal cortical areas increased in power in the alpha and theta rhythm range of 1-12 cycles per second (Hertz). The more experience that the participants had with meditation the larger the increase in the EEG power during sleep following the meditation. These results suggest that long-term meditation practice changes the nervous system making it more sensitive to the effects of meditation on sleep.

 

Other research has demonstrated that long-term meditation practice produces increases in the size, activity, and connectivity of the frontal and parietal regions. So, the finding that EEG power increases during sleep in these areas as a result of long-term meditation makes sense. It is not known, however, exactly what the increased EEG power indicates. But, it can be speculated that is may indicate deeper sleep in non-REM, slow-wave, sleep. Perhaps enhancing subjective experiences during this phase of sleep. This would fit with the improvements in sleep seen in meditators. It remains for future research to test these speculations and determine exactly what meditation does to the sleeping brain and the subjective experiences of the dreamer.

 

Regardless of the merits of this speculation, it is clear that meditation alters the sleeping brain.

 

“there are whole-health benefits to the practice of mindfulness, wherein every aspect of health stands to gain. A healthier you is likely to sleep better, and a better-sleeping you is likely to be healthier.” – Michael Breus

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

 

Study Summary

Dentico D, Ferrarelli F, Riedner BA, Smith R, Zennig C, Lutz A, et al. (2016) Short Meditation Trainings Enhance Non-REM Sleep Low-Frequency Oscillations. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0148961. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148961

 

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVES: We have recently shown higher parietal-occipital EEG gamma activity during sleep in long-term meditators compared to meditation-naive individuals. This gamma increase was specific for NREM sleep, was present throughout the entire night and correlated with meditation expertise, thus suggesting underlying long-lasting neuroplastic changes induced through prolonged training. The aim of this study was to explore the neuroplastic changes acutely induced by 2 intensive days of different meditation practices in the same group of practitioners. We also repeated baseline recordings in a meditation-naive cohort to account for time effects on sleep EEG activity.

DESIGN: High-density EEG recordings of human brain activity were acquired over the course of whole sleep nights following intervention.

SETTING: Sound-attenuated sleep research room.

PATIENTS OR PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-four long-term meditators and twenty-four meditation-naïve controls.

INTERVENTIONS: Two 8-h sessions of either a mindfulness-based meditation or a form of meditation designed to cultivate compassion and loving kindness, hereafter referred to as compassion meditation.

MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: We found an increase in EEG low-frequency oscillatory activities (1-12 Hz, centered around 7-8 Hz) over prefrontal and left parietal electrodes across whole night NREM cycles. This power increase peaked early in the night and extended during the third cycle to high-frequencies up to the gamma range (25-40 Hz). There was no difference in sleep EEG activity between meditation styles in long-term meditators nor in the meditation naïve group across different time points. Furthermore, the prefrontal-parietal changes were dependent on meditation life experience.

CONCLUSIONS: This low-frequency prefrontal-parietal activation likely reflects acute, meditation-related plastic changes occurring during wakefulness, and may underlie a top-down regulation from frontal and anterior parietal areas to the posterior parietal and occipital regions showing chronic, long-lasting plastic changes in long-term meditators.