Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

Alter the Brain and Memory Consolidation During Sleep with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

meditation. The deep relaxation technique has been shown to increase sleep time, improve sleep quality, and make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep.” – Sleep Foundation

 

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. These changes can be recorded from the scalp with an electroencephalogram (EEG).

 

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 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. 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.

 

Sleep has also been shown to be involved in memory consolidation. “Sleep is thought to strengthen information learned during the day, to select which experiences are best remembered and which are best forgotten, and to assimilate new knowledge into existing autobiographical networks.” It has been shown that mindfulness training, including meditation practice, affects sleep and tends to improve sleep and reduce insomnia. It has also been shown to affect memory. But there is need to further investigate the effects of meditation practice, particularly long-term meditation practice, on brain activity during sleep and wakefulness and memory consolidation to begin to understand the mechanisms by which meditation practice affects memory, sleep, and wakefulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Different Patterns of Sleep-Dependent Procedural Memory Consolidation in Vipassana Meditation Practitioners and Non-meditating Controls.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A), Solomonova and colleagues recruited healthy young adult (aged 18-35 years) practitioners of Vipassana meditation and matched non-meditators for an afternoon nap study. The participants were measured for body awareness. On one day they engaged in a 90-minute nap preceded by either a 10-minute meditation or a 10-minute relaxation period. During the nap their EEG was recorded. The participants reported on their dreams when awoken halfway into and at the end of the nap. Before and after the nap the participants engaged in a 5-minute session measuring balance with a Nintendo game “Balance Bubble.”

 

They found that the meditators had significantly greater body awareness than the non-meditators. In addition, for meditators only, the higher the body awareness the better the performance on the balance task. Hence meditation practice is associated with better awareness of the body which was in turn related to their balance.

 

There were no significant differences between the groups in improvement on the balance task after the nap or in sleep structure as assessed with the EEG during the nap. Interestingly, the greater the lifetime meditation practice, the less time spent in slow-wave (non-REM) sleep. For the meditation group but not the controls, the greater the density of slow-wave (non-REM) sleep spindles during the nap, the greater the improvement in the balance task. On the other hand, for the non-meditators the greater the time spent in REM sleep, the greater the improvement in the balance task.

 

These findings suggest that memory consolidation for a balance task over a nap occurred in concert with different sleep architecture for the meditators and non-meditators. This suggests the meditation practice produce neuroplastic changes in the brain that resulted in different memory consolidation mechanisms during sleep. These are complex changes that suggest different neural processing of information during sleep in meditators.

 

So, alter the brain and memory consolidation during sleep with meditation.

 

Given the many health concerns pertaining to sleep aid medication use in older adults,” he added, “mindfulness meditation appears to be a safe and sensible health promoting practice to improve sleep quality.” – David Black

 

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

 

Solomonova E, Dubé S, Blanchette-Carrière C, Sandra DA, Samson-Richer A, Carr M, Paquette T and Nielsen T (2020) Different Patterns of Sleep-Dependent Procedural Memory Consolidation in Vipassana Meditation Practitioners and Non-meditating Controls. Front. Psychol. 10:3014. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014

 

Aim: Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and sleep spindles are all implicated in the consolidation of procedural memories. Relative contributions of sleep stages and sleep spindles were previously shown to depend on individual differences in task processing. However, no studies to our knowledge have focused on individual differences in experience with Vipassana meditation as related to sleep. Vipassana meditation is a form of mental training that enhances proprioceptive and somatic awareness and alters attentional style. The goal of this study was to examine a potential role for Vipassana meditation experience in sleep-dependent procedural memory consolidation.

Methods: Groups of Vipassana meditation practitioners (N = 22) and matched meditation-naïve controls (N = 20) slept for a daytime nap in the laboratory. Before and after the nap they completed a procedural task on the Wii Fit balance platform.

Results: Meditators performed slightly better on the task before the nap, but the two groups improved similarly after sleep. The groups showed different patterns of sleep-dependent procedural memory consolidation: in meditators, task learning was positively correlated with density of slow occipital spindles, while in controls task improvement was positively associated with time in REM sleep. Sleep efficiency and sleep architecture did not differ between groups. Meditation practitioners, however, had a lower density of occipital slow sleep spindles than controls.

Conclusion: Results suggest that neuroplastic changes associated with meditation practice may alter overall sleep microarchitecture and reorganize sleep-dependent patterns of memory consolidation. The lower density of occipital spindles in meditators may mean that meditation practice compensates for some of the memory functions of sleep.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03014/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1232595_69_Psycho_20200204_arts_A

 

Improve Gulf War Illness in Veterans with Tai Chi

Improve Gulf War Illness in Veterans with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

A prominent condition affecting Gulf War Veterans is a cluster of medically unexplained chronic symptoms that can include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.” – US Department of Veterans Affairs

 

Engaging in warfare has many consequences to society and individuals, including the warriors themselves. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common problem among military veterans with between 11% to 20% of veterans who were involved in combat developing PTSD. There is a specific syndrome that has been identified in about 36% of veterans of the Persian Gulf war of 1991. The cluster of symptoms include fatigue, headaches, joint pain, indigestion, insomnia, dizziness, respiratory disorders, and memory problems.

 

It has been demonstrated that mindfulness training is effective for PTSD symptoms . In addition, Yoga practice is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to be helpful for PTSD. Mindful movement practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong have been found to be beneficial for individuals with a myriad of physical and psychological problems. This raises the possibility that Tai Chi practice may be beneficial for veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effects of Tai Chi Mind-Body Approach on the Mechanisms of Gulf War Illness: an Umbrella Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6600798/), Reid and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice in relieving the symptoms of participants whose symptoms were similar to Gulf War Illness. They identified multiple randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses of Tai Chi practice for these symptoms.

 

They report that the published research indicates that Tai Chi practice significantly improves mood, sleep, global cognitive function, and respiratory function and significantly decreases insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress, and chronic pain. Hence Tai Chi practice has been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms that commonly occur in Gulf War Illness. This suggests that Tai Chi practice should be tried directly to treat veterans with Gulf War Syndrome. It remains for future research to test this hypothesis.

 

So, improve Gulf War Illness in veterans with Tai Chi.

 

Mindfulness-based stress reduction may provide significant benefits to symptoms associated with Gulf War Illness in veterans.” – Laura Stiles

 

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

 

Reid, K. F., Bannuru, R. R., Wang, C., Mori, D. L., & Niles, B. L. (2019). The Effects of Tai Chi Mind-Body Approach on the Mechanisms of Gulf War Illness: an Umbrella Review. Integrative medicine research, 8(3), 167–172. doi:10.1016/j.imr.2019.05.003

 

Abstract

Gulf War illness (GWI) is a chronic and multisymptom disorder affecting military veterans deployed to the 1991 Persian Gulf War. It is characterized by a range of acute and chronic symptoms, including but not limited to, fatigue, sleep disturbances, psychological problems, cognitive deficits, widespread pain, and respiratory and gastrointestinal difficulties. The prevalence of many of these chronic symptoms affecting Gulf War veterans occur at markedly elevated rates compared to nondeployed contemporary veterans. To date, no effective treatments for GWI have been identified. The overarching goal of this umbrella review was to critically evaluate the evidence for the potential of Tai Chi mind-body exercise to benefit and alleviate GWI symptomology. Based on the most prevalent GWI chronic symptoms and case definitions established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Gulf War Veterans Health Initiative Program, we reviewed and summarized the evidence from 7 published systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Our findings suggest that Tai Chi may have the potential for distinct therapeutic benefits on the major prevalent symptoms of GWI. Future clinical trials are warranted to examine the feasibility, efficacy, durability and potential mechanisms of Tai Chi for improving health outcomes and relieving symptomology in GWI.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6600798/

 

Improve the Symptoms of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients with Online Yoga

Improve the Symptoms of Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Patients with Online Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Yoga classes specifically created for cancer patients offer more than a traditional support group. Yoga creates a sense of belonging, reduces feelings of stress and improves quality of life.” – Sara Szeglowski

 

“Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) are blood cancers that occur when the body makes too many white or red blood cells, or platelets” (Cancer Support Community). It typically occurs in older adults and is fairly rare (1-2 cases/100,000 per year) and has a very high survival rate. It produces a variety of psychological and physical symptoms including fatigue, anxiety, pain, depression, and sleep disturbance, reduced physical, social, and cognitive functioning resulting. This produces a marked reduced in the patient’s quality of life.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown through extensive research to be effective in improving physical and psychological health including fatigueanxietydepressionpain, and sleep disturbance, and improves physical, social, and cognitive functioning as well as quality of life in cancer patients. Yoga practice also improves the physical and mental health of cancer patients. The vast majority of the yoga practice, however, requires a trained instructor. It also requires that the participants be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may be difficult for myeloproliferative neoplasm patients to attend and may or may not be compatible with their schedules and at locations that may not be convenient.

 

As an alternative, online yoga trainings have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. But the question arises as to the effectiveness of these online programs in relieving the psychological and physical symptoms of myeloproliferative neoplasm patients and improving their quality of life.

 

In today’s Research News article “Online yoga in myeloproliferative neoplasm patients: results of a randomized pilot trial to inform future research.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6556039/), Huberty and colleagues recruited adult myeloproliferative neoplasm patients and randomly assigned them to either receive online yoga training or to a wait-list control condition. Yoga training occurred via streamed videos for a total of 60 minutes training per week for 12 weeks. The individual training videos increased in duration from 5 minutes to 30 minutes over the 12 weeks. The participants were measured for adverse events and yoga participation by self-report and by clicking on the video links and over the training period. Before and after training they were measured for total symptoms, fatigue, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, sexual function, and quality of life. In, addition, blood was drawn and assayed for inflammatory cytokines.

 

They found that 79% of the patients in the yoga group completed participation averaging 42 minutes per week and there were no adverse events reported. Self-reports of yoga participation were over-reported by on average 10 minutes as assessed by actual clicks on the yoga video links. They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list group, the yoga group reported a moderate decrease in depression and small decreases in anxiety, pain intensity, sleep disturbance, and in TNF-α blood levels.

 

This was a pilot feasibility study and did not have a sufficient number of participants to detect small effects. It also lacked an active control, such as aerobic exercise. Nevertheless, the trial suggests that teaching yoga online is feasible and can successfully improve the psychological health of myeloproliferative neoplasm patients and reduce inflammation. This is potentially important as yoga treatment can be successfully employed remotely, inexpensively, and conveniently and can reduce the suffering of myeloproliferative neoplasm patients. A large randomized clinical trial with an active control condition is justified by these encouraging results.

 

So, improve the symptoms of myeloproliferative neoplasm patients with online yoga.

 

Some people with cancer say it helps calm their mind so that they can cope better with their cancer and its treatment. Others say it helps to reduce symptoms and side effects such as pain, tiredness, sleep problems and depression.” – Cancer Research UK

 

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

 

Huberty, J., Eckert, R., Dueck, A., Kosiorek, H., Larkey, L., Gowin, K., & Mesa, R. (2019). Online yoga in myeloproliferative neoplasm patients: results of a randomized pilot trial to inform future research. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 19(1), 121. doi:10.1186/s12906-019-2530-8

 

Abstract

Background

Myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) patients suffer from significant symptoms, inflammation and reduced quality of life. Yoga improves these outcomes in other cancers, but this hasn’t been demonstrated in MPNs. The purpose of this study was to: (1) explore the limited efficacy (does the program show promise of success) of a 12-week online yoga intervention among MPN patients on symptom burden and quality of life and (2) determine feasibility (practicality: to what extent a measure can be carried out) of remotely collecting inflammatory biomarkers.

Methods

Patients were recruited nationally and randomized to online yoga (60 min/week of yoga) or wait-list control (asked to maintain normal activity). Weekly yoga minutes were collected with Clicky (online web analytics tool) and self-report. Those in online yoga completed a blood draw at baseline and week 12 to assess inflammation (interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha [TNF-α]). All participants completed questionnaires assessing depression, anxiety, fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance, sexual function, total symptom burden, global health, and quality of life at baseline, week seven, 12, and 16. Change from baseline at each time point was computed by group and effect sizes were calculated. Pre-post intervention change in inflammation for the yoga group was compared by t-test.

Results

Sixty-two MPN patients enrolled and 48 completed the intervention (online yoga = 27; control group = 21). Yoga participation averaged 40.8 min/week via Clicky and 56.1 min/week via self-report. Small/moderate effect sizes were generated from the yoga intervention for sleep disturbance (d = − 0.26 to − 0.61), pain intensity (d = − 0.34 to − 0.51), anxiety (d = − 0.27 to − 0.37), and depression (d = − 0.53 to − 0.78). A total of 92.6 and 70.4% of online yoga participants completed the blood draw at baseline and week 12, respectively, and there was a decrease in TNF-α from baseline to week 12 (− 1.3 ± 1.5 pg/ml).

Conclusions

Online yoga demonstrated small effects on sleep, pain, and anxiety as well as a moderate effect on depression. Remote blood draw procedures are feasible and the effect size of the intervention on TNF-α was large. Future fully powered randomized controlled trials are needed to test for efficacy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6556039/

 

Change the Brain’s Electrical Activity to during Sleep and Wakefulness with Meditation

Change the Brain’s Electrical Activity to during Sleep and Wakefulness with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Soon after beginning a meditation practice, many people report needing less sleep.” – Eoc Institute

 

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 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. 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.

 

It has been shown that mindfulness training, including meditation practice, affects sleep and tends to improve sleep and reduce insomnia. But there is need to further investigate the effects of meditation practice, particularly long-term meditation practice, on brain activity during sleep and wakefulness to begin to understand the mechanisms by which meditation practice affects sleep and wakefulness.

 

In today’s Research News article “Acute effects of meditation training on the waking and sleeping brain: Is it all about homeostasis?” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6534352/), Dentico and colleagues recruited long-term meditators (at least 3-years of experience) and a group of age and gender matched non-meditators. They had their overnight electroencephalograms (EEG) recorded during sleep and after waking in the lab under three conditions, baseline, after a day of intensive focused meditation, and after a day of intensive loving kindness meditation. The meditation simulated a meditation retreat format for 2 days. The non-meditators rested during similar periods. They were also measured for depression, mental health issues, sleep disorders, insomnia, fatigue, sleepiness, and common phenomenological features of meditation.

 

They found that the sleep and waking EEGs were not different between the two types of meditation, focused or loving kindness. After intensive meditation practice there were significant increases after sleep in waking slow (8 hz.) and fast (15 hz.) waves in the EEG recorded from the prefrontal and parietal cortical regions. They also reported that the greater the amount of previous meditation experience the greater the waking high frequency waveforms after a day of intensive meditation. They also found that the EEG activities in in the theta frequency range (4-8 hz.) in different brain regions were highly related during non-REM sleep in long-term meditators.

 

These results are interesting and suggest that long-term meditation changes the brains activity during both sleep and wakefulness. The regions most affected, the prefrontal and parietal cortical regions, are associated with attentional processes. So, the results suggest that long-term meditation changes the brain to improve its ability to focus attention. They also suggest that long-term meditation increases the synchronization in different brain regions of activity during non-REM sleep. This may signal deeper levels of sleep. Regardless, the results suggest that meditation experience changes the brain’s activity in sleep and wakefulness.

 

So, change the brain’s electrical activity to during sleep and wakefulness with meditation.

 

meditation has lasting effects on the plastic brain, and that gamma activity during non-REM sleep may be a reliable marker for the extent of these changes.” – Plastic Brain

 

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

 

Dentico D, Bachhuber D, Riedner BA, Ferrarelli F, Tononi G, Davidson RJ, Lutz A. Acute effects of meditation training on the waking and sleeping brain: Is it all about homeostasis? Eur J Neurosci. 2018 Sep;48(6):2310-2321. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14131. PMID: 30144201; PMCID: PMC6534352.

 

Abstract

Our recent finding of a meditation-related increase in low-frequency NREM sleep EEG oscillatory activities peaking in the theta-alpha range (4–12 Hz) was not predicted. From a consolidated body of research on sleep homeostasis, we would expect a change peaking in slow wave activity (1–4 Hz) following an intense meditation session. Here we compared these changes in sleep with the post-meditation changes in waking rest scalp power to further characterize their functional significance. High-density EEG recordings were acquired from 27 long-term meditators (LTM) on three separate days at baseline and following two 8-hr sessions of either mindfulness or compassion-and-loving-kindness meditation. Thirty-one meditation-naïve participants (MNP) were recorded at the same time points. As a common effect of meditation practice, we found increases in low and fast waking EEG oscillations for LTM only, peaking at eight and 15 Hz respectively, over prefrontal, and left centro-parietal electrodes. Paralleling our previous findings in sleep, there was no significant difference between meditation styles in LTM as well as no difference between matched sessions in MNP. Meditation-related changes in wakefulness and NREM sleep were correlated across space and frequency. A significant correlation was found in the EEG low frequencies (<12 Hz). Since the peak of coupling was observed in the theta-alpha oscillatory range, sleep homeostatic response to meditation practice is not sufficient to explain our findings. Another likely phenomenon into play is a reverberation of meditation-related processes during subsequent sleep. Future studies should ascertain the interplay between these processes in promoting the beneficial effects of meditation practice.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6534352/

 

Improve Sleep and Relieve Fatigue in Cancer Survivors with Yoga

Improve Sleep and Relieve Fatigue in Cancer Survivors with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

We recommend that doctors prescribe this low-risk, low-cost treatment to all cancer patients with cancer-related fatigue. We would like them to prescribe gentle hatha yoga but they need to refer to appropriate yoga instructors who have experience of working with cancer patients.” – Po-Ju Lin

 

Because of great advances in treatment, many patients today are surviving cancer. But cancer survivors frequently suffer from anxiety, depression, mood disturbance, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep disturbance, fatigue, sexual dysfunction, loss of personal control, impaired quality of life, and psychiatric symptoms which have been found to persist even ten years after remission. Also, cancer survivors can have to deal with a heightened fear of reoccurrence. This is particularly true with metastatic cancer. So, safe and effective treatments for the symptoms in cancer and the physical and psychological effects of the treatments are needed.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with general cancer recovery . Yoga is both an exercise and a mindfulness practice that has also been shown to be helpful with the residual symptoms in cancer survivors, the psychological and physical ability to deal with cancer treatment and improves sleep. So, it’s reasonable to further explore the potential benefits of yoga practice to improve sleep and relieve fatigue in patients who have survived cancer.

 

In today’s Research News article “Influence of Yoga on Cancer-Related Fatigue and on Mediational Relationships Between Changes in Sleep and Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Nationwide, Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial of Yoga in Cancer Survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6552348/), Lin and colleagues recruited patients who had survived a variety of different cancers, and who had completed primary care and who had sleep disturbance, from centers all over the U.S. They were randomly assigned them to receive standard care plus yoga training or standard care alone. Yoga training occurred for 75 minutes, twice a week, for 4 weeks and consisted of breathing exercises, physical alignment postures, and mindfulness exercises. They were measured before and after treatment for cancer related fatigue, including general, physical, emotional, mental, and vigor domains, and sleep, including subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, habitual sleep efficiency, sleep disturbance, sleep medication use, and daytime dysfunction.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the treatment-as-usual group, the participants who received yoga training had significant improvements in all domains of fatigue with moderate effect sizes. The yoga group also had significant improvements in sleep, including increases in overall sleep quality and subjective sleep quality and decreases in daytime dysfunction. Finally, they found, employing path analysis, that yoga training improved fatigue directly and indirectly by improving sleep that in turn improved sleep.

 

These are potentially important findings. Fatigue and sleep disturbance are difficult residual problems. There is a need to have long-term follow-up of these patients to determine whether yoga practice produces sustained relief of sleep disturbance and fatigue. Nevertheless, the findings show that at least on the short-term, yoga practice can address these symptoms and as a result improve the well-being and quality of life of cancer survivors. In addition, practicing yoga has been shown to produce widespread benefits for the physical and psychological health of practitioners. So, yoga practice would seem to be an excellent additional treatment for patients who have survived cancer.

 

So, improve sleep and relieve fatigue in cancer survivors with yoga.

 

“Two randomized controlled trials in breast cancer patients (one in patients undergoing radiation and one in breast cancer survivors) showed yoga practice significantly improved fatigue.” – Carrie Newsom

 

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

 

Lin, P. J., Kleckner, I. R., Loh, K. P., Inglis, J. E., Peppone, L. J., Janelsins, M. C., … Mustian, K. M. (2019). Influence of Yoga on Cancer-Related Fatigue and on Mediational Relationships Between Changes in Sleep and Cancer-Related Fatigue: A Nationwide, Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial of Yoga in Cancer Survivors. Integrative cancer therapies, 18, 1534735419855134. doi:10.1177/1534735419855134

 

Abstract

Background: Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) often co-occurs with sleep disturbance and is one of the most pervasive toxicities resulting from cancer and its treatment. We and other investigators have previously reported that yoga therapy can improve sleep quality in cancer patients and survivors. No nationwide multicenter phase III randomized controlled trial (RCT) has investigated whether yoga therapy improves CRF or whether improvements in sleep mediate the effect of yoga on CRF. We examined the effect of a standardized, 4-week, yoga therapy program (Yoga for Cancer Survivors [YOCAS]) on CRF and whether YOCAS-induced changes in sleep mediated changes in CRF among survivors. Study Design and Methods: Four hundred ten cancer survivors were recruited to a nationwide multicenter phase III RCT comparing the effect of YOCAS to standard survivorship care on CRF and examining the mediating effects of changes in sleep, stemming from yoga, on changes in CRF. CRF was assessed by the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory. Sleep was assessed via the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Between- and within-group intervention effects on CRF were assessed by analysis of covariance and 2-tailed t test, respectively. Path analysis was used to evaluate mediation. Results: YOCAS participants demonstrated significantly greater improvements in CRF compared with participants in standard survivorship care at post-intervention (P < .01). Improvements in overall sleep quality and reductions in daytime dysfunction (eg, excessive napping) resulting from yoga significantly mediated the effect of yoga on CRF (22% and 37%, respectively, both P < .01). Conclusions: YOCAS is effective for treating CRF among cancer survivors; 22% to 37% of the improvements in CRF from yoga therapy result from improvements in sleep quality and daytime dysfunction. Oncologists should consider prescribing yoga to cancer survivors for treating CRF and sleep disturbance.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6552348/

 

 

Improve Workplace Wellness with Mindful Meditation

Improve Workplace Wellness with Mindful Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

If your workforce deals with stress, emotional health issues, or low morale, you’ll likely benefit from implementing a meditation program. Meditation programs have a lot of amazing health and wellness benefits that will have a positive impact on your employees.” – Robyn Whalen

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for 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 people we work with. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

To help overcome unhappiness, stress, and burnoutmindfulness practices have been implemented in the workplace. Indeed, mindfulness practices have been shown to markedly reduce the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, it has become very trendy for business to incorporate meditation into the workday to help improve employee well-being, health, and productivity. These programs attempt to increase the employees’ mindfulness at work and thereby reduce stress and burnout. The research has been accumulating. So, it is important to step back and summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness meditation for workplace wellness: An evidence map.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6598008/), Hilton and colleagues reviewed and summarized published systematic reviews of the research on mindfulness training in the workplace and its effects on employee health and well-being. They identified 175 reviews that focused on health care workers, caregivers, educators, and general workplace workers.

 

They report that the reviews demonstrated that mindfulness-based interventions were effective in treating chronic conditions producing relief of psychological distress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. Mindfulness was found to produce small decreases in chronic pain but significant improvements in pain-related quality of life. Mindfulness training was found to reduce substance abuse and help prevent relapse, reduce negative emotions, anxiety, depression, somatization, irritable bowel syndrome, and stress effects. Mindfulness training also was effective in cancer care, including reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue, and improving sleep and quality of life. for support of caregivers.

 

These findings are remarkable. The wide range of positive benefits on physical and mental health are breathtaking. To this authors knowledge there is no other treatment that has such broad application and effectiveness. This suggests that workplace mindfulness training is safe and highly effective and should be implemented throughout the workplace.

 

So, improve workplace wellness with mindful meditation.

 

The ancient art of meditation has many benefits, especially in the workplace. Studies have shown that meditation practiced in the workplace has a direct impact on increased productivity, creativity, focus, and the overall happiness of employees.” – The Lotus

 

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

 

Hilton, L. G., Marshall, N. J., Motala, A., Taylor, S. L., Miake-Lye, I. M., Baxi, S., … Hempel, S. (2019). Mindfulness meditation for workplace wellness: An evidence map. Work (Reading, Mass.), 63(2), 205–218. doi:10.3233/WOR-192922

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Mindfulness interventions aim to foster greater attention and awareness of present moment experiences. Uptake of mindfulness programs in the workplace has grown as organizations look to support employee health, wellbeing, and performance.

OBJECTIVE:

In support of evidence-based decision making in workplace contexts, we created an evidence map summarizing physical and mental health, cognitive, affective, and interpersonal outcomes from systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of mindfulness interventions.

METHODS:

We searched nine electronic databases to July 2017, dually-screened all reviews, and consulted topic experts to identify systematic reviews on mindfulness interventions. The distribution of evidence is presented as an evidence map in a bubble plot.

RESULTS:

In total, 175 systematic reviews met inclusion criteria. Reviews included a variety of mindfulness-based interventions. The largest review included 109 randomized controlled trials. The majority of these addressed general health, psychological conditions, chronic illness, pain, and substance use. Twenty-six systematic reviews assessed studies conducted in workplace settings and with healthcare professionals, educators, and caregivers. The evidence map shows the prevalence of research by the primary area of focus. An outline of promising applications of mindfulness interventions is included.

CONCLUSIONS:

The evidence map provides an overview of existing mindfulness research. It shows the body of available evidence to inform policy and organizational decision-making supporting employee wellbeing in work contexts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6598008/

 

Improve Cancer-Related Symptoms in Cancer Survivors with Tai Chi

Improve Cancer-Related Symptoms in Cancer Survivors with Tai Chi

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

In terms of the evidence that’s out there and the scientific literature, practices such as tai chi have been found to help improve patients’ quality of life. There are some studies showing that these types of mind-body practices can also have an impact on physiological functioning, improving aspects of immune function and decreasing stress hormones.” – Lorenzo Cohen

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. It is estimated that 15 million adults and children with a history of cancer are alive in the United States today. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. “Physical, emotional, and financial hardships often persist for years after diagnosis and treatment. Cancer survivors are also at greater risk for developing second cancers and other health conditions.” National Cancer Survivors Day.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. Tai Chi or Qigong practice has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce fatigue, and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. They are very gentle and safe practices. The research is accumulating. So, it makes sense to take a step back and summarize what has been found in regard to Tai Chi practice for the treatment of cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Tai Chi and Qigong for cancer-related symptoms and quality of life: 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/PMC5958892/), Wayne and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of Tai Chi practice in relieving cancer-related symptoms in cancer survivors. They identified 22 published research studies that included a total of 1571 cancer survivors. 15 of the studies were randomized controlled trials investigating survivors of a variety of cancers including breast, prostate lymphoma, lung, and multiple cancers.

 

They report that in general the research studies demonstrated a significant reduction in fatigue, sleep difficulty, depression , and quality of life resulting from Tai Chi practice. No significant improvements in pain were observed. No adverse events were reported. Hence, the research suggests that Tai Chi practice is a safe and effective treatment for cancer-related symptoms in cancer survivors. Tai Chi practice appears to benefit the mental and physical health of the survivors.

 

The results of the published research strongly suggests that Tai Chi  practice should be routinely prescribed for survivors of cancer. Tai Chi is a gentle and safe mindfulness practice. It is appropriate for all ages including the elderly and for individuals with illnesses that limit their activities or range of motion. It is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can be practiced in social groups. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. So, Tai Chi practice would appear to be an excellent gentle practice to improve the well-being of cancer survivors.

 

So, improve cancer-related symptoms in cancer survivors with Tai Chi.

 

“Tai chi does not treat the cancer itself. Research suggests that tai chi can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, ease pain and stiffness and improve sleep. Small studies have shown that regular tai chi may help with depression and improve self-esteem. These studies have also suggested that regular practice of tai chi can improve quality of life.” – Canadian Cancer Society

 

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

 

Wayne, P. M., Lee, M. S., Novakowski, J., Osypiuk, K., Ligibel, J., Carlson, L. E., & Song, R. (2017). Tai Chi and Qigong for cancer-related symptoms and quality of life: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of cancer survivorship : research and practice, 12(2), 256–267. doi:10.1007/s11764-017-0665-5

 

Abstract

Purpose

Summarize and critically evaluate the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong (TCQ) mind-body exercises on symptoms and quality of life (QOL) in cancer survivors.

Methods

A systematic search in 4 electronic databases targeted randomized and non-randomized clinical studies evaluating TCQ for fatigue, sleep difficulty, depression, pain, and quality of life (QOL) in cancer patients, published through August 2016. Meta-analysis was used to estimate effect sizes (ES, Hedges’ g) and publication bias for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Methodological bias in RCTs was assessed.

Results

Our search identified 22 studies, including 15 RCTs that evaluated 1283 participants in total, 75% women. RCTs evaluated breast (n=7), prostate (n=2), lymphoma (n=1), lung (n=1), or combined (n=4) cancers. RCT comparison groups included active intervention (n=7), usual care (n=5), or both (n=3). Duration of TCQ training ranged from 3 to 12 weeks. Methodological bias was low in 12 studies and high in 3 studies. TCQ was associated with significant improvement in fatigue [ES=−0.53, p<.001], sleep difficulty [ES=−0.49, p=.018], depression [ES=−0.27, p=.001], and overall QOL [ES=0.33, p=.004]; a statistically non-significant trend was observed for pain [ES=−0.38, p=.136]. Random effects models were used for meta-analysis based on Q-test and I-squared criteria. Funnel plots suggest some degree of publication bias. Findings in non-randomized studies largely paralleled meta-analysis results.

Conclusions

Larger and methodologically sound trials with longer follow-up periods and appropriate comparison groups are needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn, and cancer- and symptom-specific recommendations can be made.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5958892/

 

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being in the Elderly with Yoga

Improve Physical and Mental Well-Being in the Elderly with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Yoga is incredible for an older population to help them maintain their balance, keep their joints flexible, maintain bone health and muscle mass, as well as learn how to cope with their mental state as they witness their bodies aging. Yoga is great for focus, concentration, and emotional wellbeing. Seniors can benefit tremendously from the practice and it gives them a place to quiet their mind and start to slow down in life.” – Kristin McGee

We celebrate the increasing longevity of the population. But aging is a mixed blessing. The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline of the body and the brain. Every system in the body deteriorates including motor function with a decline in strength, flexibility, and balance. It is inevitable. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions and depression. There is some hope as there is evidence that these declines can be slowed. For example, a healthy diet and a regular program of exercise can slow the physical decline of the body with aging. Also, contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi or qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline.

 

Yoga practice has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for psychological and physical health. It is both an exercise and a mind-body practice that stresses both mental attention to present moment movements, breath control, and flexibility, range of motion, and balance. It has been shown to improve balance and flexibility in older individuals.  It is safe and can be practiced by anyone from children to seniors. Recently, there have been a number of high profile athletes who have adopted a yoga practice to improve their athletic performance. But it is not known whether yoga practice is as good as traditional exercise programs in improving the overall functional fitness of sedentary older adults and slow the age related physical decline.

 

In today’s Research News article “The effects of yoga compared to active and inactive controls on physical function and health related quality of life in older adults- systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451238/), Sivaramakrishnan and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of yoga practice for the well-being of aging individuals. They identified 22 randomized controlled trials of yoga practice effects on the physical function and health related quality of life in older (> 60 years) individuals.

 

They report that the research literature found that yoga practice in comparison to both active and inactive controls produced significant improvements in physical function including lower limb strength and lower body flexibility. In comparison to inactive controls yoga practice also produced a significant improvement in balance. Additionally, they report that yoga practice in comparison to both active and inactive controls produced significant improvement in depression levels. In comparison to inactive controls yoga practice also produced significant improvements in perceived mental health, perceived physical health, sleep quality, and vitality.

 

In looking at the research findings in general, it appears that yoga practice has significant benefits for older adults for physical and mental health. The benefits appear the greatest when yoga practice is compared to no activity, but are still present but to a lesser extent when compared to individuals practicing other activities such as walking, Tai Chi, or stretching exercises. Hence, it appears that many of the benefits of yoga practice are due to the exercise provided by yoga rather than the mind-body components of the practice.

 

But yoga practice still has some important benefits in comparison to older individuals engaging in other activities. These benefits would appear to be independent of the exercise and are likely due to the contemplative practice provided by yoga. The antidepressant effects are particularly important as depression is a major problem for the elderly. The improvements in strength and flexibility are also important as these physical abilities deteriorate with aging and contribute to musculoskeletal problems.

 

The current research literature findings, the, suggest that yoga may be an excellent practice for the slowing of age-related decline. It would appear to be superior to many other activities and should be routinely recommended for physical and mental health of the elderly.

 

So, improve physical and mental well-being in the elderly with Yoga.

 

The research on yoga is preliminary, however, initial studies have found a yoga practice to positively correlate with both physical and mental wellness. It’s uncontroversial that yoga can improve strength, flexibility, and endurance, but studies have also found that regular practice may help: Lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, Recovery from strokes and surgery, prevent falls, manage arthritis, pain and inflammation, manage diabetes, manage digestive issues like IBS, improve sleep quality, facilitate the grieving process, and manage depression and anxiety.” – Yoga for Seniors

 

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

 

Sivaramakrishnan, D., Fitzsimons, C., Kelly, P., Ludwig, K., Mutrie, N., Saunders, D. H., & Baker, G. (2019). The effects of yoga compared to active and inactive controls on physical function and health related quality of life in older adults- systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 16(1), 33. doi:10.1186/s12966-019-0789-2

 

Abstract

Background

Yoga has been recommended as a muscle strengthening and balance activity in national and global physical activity guidelines. However, the evidence base establishing the effectiveness of yoga in improving physical function and health related quality of life (HRQoL) in an older adult population not recruited on the basis of any specific disease or condition, has not been systematically reviewed. The objective of this study was to synthesise existing evidence on the effects of yoga on physical function and HRQoL in older adults not characterised by any specific clinical condition.

Methods

The following databases were systematically searched in September 2017: MEDLINE, PsycInfo, CINAHL Plus, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, AMED and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. Study inclusion criteria: Older adult participants with mean age of 60 years and above, not recruited on the basis of any specific disease or condition; yoga intervention compared with inactive controls (example: wait-list control, education booklets) or active controls (example: walking, chair aerobics); physical function and HRQoL outcomes; and randomised/cluster randomised controlled trials published in English. A vote counting analysis and meta-analysis with standardised effect sizes (Hedges’ g) computed using random effects models were conducted.

Results

A total of 27 records from 22 RCTs were included (17 RCTs assessed physical function and 20 assessed HRQoL). The meta-analysis revealed significant effects (5% level of significance) favouring the yoga group for the following physical function outcomes compared with inactive controls: balance (effect size (ES) = 0.7), lower body flexibility (ES = 0.5), lower limb strength (ES = 0.45); compared with active controls: lower limb strength (ES = 0.49), lower body flexibility (ES = 0.28). For HRQoL, significant effects favouring yoga were found compared to inactive controls for: depression (ES = 0.64), perceived mental health (ES = 0.6), perceived physical health (ES = 0.61), sleep quality (ES = 0.65), and vitality (ES = 0.31); compared to active controls: depression (ES = 0.54).

Conclusion

This review is the first to compare the effects of yoga with active and inactive controls in older adults not characterised by a specific clinical condition. Results indicate that yoga interventions improve multiple physical function and HRQoL outcomes in this population compared to both control conditions. This study provides robust evidence for promoting yoga in physical activity guidelines for older adults as a multimodal activity that improves aspects of fitness like strength, balance and flexibility, as well as mental wellbeing.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451238/

 

Improve Sleep and Reduce Insomnia with Mindfulness

Improve Sleep and Reduce Insomnia with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

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

 

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. 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.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Mind-Body Therapies on Insomnia: 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/PMC6393899/ ), Wang and colleagues review, summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the effects of mind-body practices on sleep. They uncovered 49 studies employing meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga practices and measuring sleep.

 

They report that the published studies found that meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga practices significantly reduced insomnia and improved the quality of sleep particularly when compared to no-treatment control groups. They also report that the benefits of the mind-body practices were greater in healthy individuals than in clinical populations. These significant effects were obtained by subjective reports, while objective sleep diary and actigraph measures were not significant.

 

These are interesting results that suggest that mind-body practices significantly improve the participants evaluations of the quality of sleep and insomnia. This is important as individuals in modern society tend not to get sufficient sleep and adequate sleep is important to the psychological and physical well-being of the individual and their performance during the day. Engaging in these mind-body practices of meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga practice have been shown to have many other benefits in addition to the improvement of sleep.

 

So, improve sleep and reduce insomnia with mindfulness.

 

“Insomnia is a disorder of cognitive and physiological hyperarousal, which mindfulness addresses.” – Aya Brackett

 

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

 

Wang, X., Li, P., Pan, C., Dai, L., Wu, Y., & Deng, Y. (2019). The Effect of Mind-Body Therapies on Insomnia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2019, 9359807. doi:10.1155/2019/9359807

 

Abstract

Background/Purpose

Sleep plays an important role in individuals’ health. The functions of the brain, the cardiovascular system, the immune system, and the metabolic system are closely associated with sleep. As a prevalent sleep disorder, insomnia has been closely concerned, and it is necessary to find effective therapies. In recent years, a growing body of studies has shown that mind-body therapies (MBTs) can improve sleep quality and ameliorate insomnia severity. However, a comprehensive and overall systematic review has not been conducted. In order to examine the effect of MBTs on insomnia, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the effects of MBTs on sleep quality in healthy adults and clinical populations.

Methods

PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and review of references were searched up to July 2018. English language studies of all designs evaluating the effect of MBTs on sleep outcomes in adults with or without diseases were examined. To calculate the SMDs and 95% CIs, we used a fixed effect model when heterogeneity was negligible and a random effect model when heterogeneity was significant.

Results

49 studies covering 4506 participants published between 2004 and 2018 were identified. Interventions included meditation, tai chi, qigong, and yoga which lasted 4 to 24 weeks. The MBTs resulted in statistically significant improvement in sleep quality and reduction on insomnia severity but no significant effects on sleep quantity indices, which were measured by sleep diary or objective measures. We analyzed the effects of tai chi and qigong separately as two different MBTs for the first time and found that qigong had a slight advantage over tai chi in the improvement of sleep quality. Subgroup analyses revealed that the effect of MBTs on sleep quality in healthy individuals was larger than clinical populations. The effect of MBTs might be influenced by the intervention duration but not the frequency.

Conclusions

MBTs can be effective in treating insomnia and improving sleep quality for healthy individuals and clinical patients. More high-quality and well-controlled RCTs are needed to make a better conclusion in further study.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6393899/

 

Enhance Flow in Athletes with Mindfulness

Enhance Flow in Athletes with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness-based interventions for sports are effective because they help athletes direct their attention to the current athletic task, while minimizing external distractions.” – Mitch Plemmons

 

Athletic performance requires the harmony of mind and body. Excellence is in part physical and in part psychological. That is why an entire profession of Sports Psychology has developed. “In sport psychology, competitive athletes are taught psychological strategies to better cope with a number of demanding challenges related to psychological functioning.” They use a number of techniques to enhance performance including mindfulness training. It has been shown to improve attention and concentration and emotion regulation and reduces anxiety and worry and rumination, and the physiological and psychological responses to stress. As a result, mindfulness training has been employed by athletes and even by entire teams to enhance their performance.

 

Flow refers to a state of mind that is characterized by a complete absorption with the task at hand, often resulting in enhanced skilled performance. The flow state underlies the athletes’ feelings and thoughts when they recall the best performances of their careers. It is obvious that the notion of flow and mindfulness have great similarity. There is little known, however, about the relationship between mindfulness and flow in athletes.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness training enhances flow state and mental health among baseball players in Taiwan.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307497/ ), Chen and colleagues recruited the members of an elite male baseball team in Taiwan and provided them with a 4-session mindfulness training including meditation, yoga, and discussion of the application of mindfulness to their sport. They were measured before and after training and 4 weeks later for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sleep quality, competitive anxiety, mindfulness, and flow state.

 

They found that after training and at follow-up there was a significant increase in sleep quality and flow state and a significant decrease in eating disorders and competitive anxiety. In addition, the higher the level of mindfulness of the player, the greater the level of flow state. They also saw a non-significant increase in the team’s performance after the training.

 

These are interesting results but conclusions need to be tempered with the fact that there wasn’t a control condition. This leaves many alternative confounding interpretations. Nevertheless, these pilot findings suggest that further research is warranted to investigate the effect of mindfulness training on athletic flow state. These results contribute to the growing body of research that suggests that being mindful produces enhanced athletic performance.

 

So, enhance flow in athletes with mindfulness.

 

“Achieving peak performance and especially being able to develop flow experiences in athletes is the holy grail of sport psychology.  . . researches are getting one step closer to unveiling the psychological factors that influence flow experiences, and mindfulness could be an essential part of the puzzle.” – Carmilo Saenz

 

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

 

Chen, J. H., Tsai, P. H., Lin, Y. C., Chen, C. K., & Chen, C. Y. (2018). Mindfulness training enhances flow state and mental health among baseball players in Taiwan. Psychology research and behavior management, 12, 15-21. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S188734

 

Abstract

Objective

To examine the effect of mindfulness-based training on performance and mental health among a group of elite athletes.

Methods

This study aimed to evaluate the effect of mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) on mental health, flow state, and competitive state anxiety using a 4-week workshop. We recruited an amateur baseball team (N=21) in Taiwan, and collected information by self-reported questionnaires administered before, immediately after, and at a 4-week follow-up. The primary outcome was to evaluate sports performance by flow state and competitive state anxiety, which included self-confidence, somatic anxiety, and cognitive anxiety. The secondary outcome was to explore whether MSPE intervention can improve anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, and eating disorders.

Result

After the workshop and follow-up 1 month later, we found improvements in flow state (P=0.001; P=0.045), cognitive anxiety in competitive anxiety (P=0.056; P=0.008), global eating disorder (P=0.009; P<0.001), marked shape concern (P=0.005; P<0.001), and weight concern (P=0.007; P<0.001). Scores of sleep disturbance (P=0.047) showed significant improvement at follow-up. We also found significant association between flow state and mindfulness ability (P<0.001).

Conclusion

This is the first mindfulness intervention to enhance athletes’ performance in Taiwan, and also the first application of MSPE for team sports. Our study results suggested that mindfulness ability is associated with flow state, and that MSPE is a promising training program for strengthening flow state and mental health.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307497/