It's no secret that menopause, particularly perimenopause (the beginning transition to menopause) can take a toll on sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, practicing good sleep hygiene and hormone replacement therapy are options to help quell insomnia for women in this stage of life. However, a new study shows that yoga could have some beneficial effects, too.
Researchers from the Group Health Research Institute found that taking a 12-week yoga class, in addition to practicing yoga at home, was linked with decreased insomnia among healthy, menopausal women.
They did not find, however, that yoga helped to decrease other symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and night sweats.
The study, published in the journal Menopause, was a randomized-controlled study, where 107 healthy women were assigned to do 12 weekly 90-minute yoga classes (in addition to home practice every day), 106 were assigned to do exercise, and 142 just went about their usual activity. In addition, 177 of these women were randomly assigned to take omega-3 fatty acids, while 178 were assigned to a placebo. All the study participants were asked to keep daily diaries, which were assessed at the beginning of the study, and then six and 12 weeks into the study.
Researchers found that the difference in frequency of menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats was not statistically significant between the women assigned to do yoga and the women assigned to usual activity. However, they did find that yoga was linked with a decrease in insomnia, compared with usual activity.
The study authors did not identify a link between the omega-3 fatty acids and improvements in menopausal symptoms; exercise was linked with slight improvements to depression and insomnia, but the association was not statistically significant.