Today we know that Tibetan form of yoga appears to help cancer patients sleep better while undergoing treatment, new research reports.
The investigators found that among 39 patients being treated for lymphoma, those who participated in only seven weekly sessions of yoga said they got to sleep sooner, slept for longer, and needed fewer drugs to fall asleep.
Study author Dr. Lorenzo Cohen, of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, explained that living with cancer can be a stressful experience, as patients cope with a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and the side effects of treatment. That stress can often interfere with patients’ sleep habits, he added.
“Incorporating this form of yoga could be useful for cancer patients to deal with the difficulties associated with diagnosis and treatment,” he said.
Yoga is an ancient Eastern form of exercise that involves regulated breathing, meditation and practicing certain postures. All participants in the current study practiced a form of yoga from Tibet, which relies on gentle movements and is known for its meditative techniques.
Over the years, studies have linked yoga to a number of health benefits, including stress reduction, lowering blood pressure, beating fatigue and easing chronic pain.
Some studies have suggested that up to three quarters of cancer patients struggle with sleep. This may have important health consequences, they note, as sleep disturbances have been linked with problems with the immune system, and an increased risk of illness or death.
Non-Tibetan forms of yoga will likely help cancer patients, as well. However, he cautioned that many patients who are undergoing or recovering from treatment should adopt a gentle routine, and avoid balancing poses or weight bearing poses if necessary.