Cancer Survivors Sleep Better With Yoga

Approximately 30-90 percent of cancer survivors report impaired sleep quality after treatment. Now, new research is showing that yoga can help. A recent study found that a low-intensity yoga practice improved the quality of sleep for cancer survivors.


The study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, involved 410 cancer survivors who were suffering from moderate to severe sleep issues. Most of the participants (96 percent) were women, 75 percent of them had been treated for breast cancer.

One group of participants practiced yoga for 75 minutes twice a week for a month using a program design specifically for cancer survivors that included pranayama, gentle hatha and restorative poses, and meditation.

Those who practiced yoga showed more improvement in global sleep quality, as well as subjective sleep quality, daytime dysfunction, wake after sleep onset, and sleep efficiency. The participants who practiced yoga were also able to cut back on their sleep medications by 21 percent, reported MedPage Today. The participants who didn’t practice yoga, on the other hand, actually increased their use of sleeping medications by 5 percent per week.

Though the research showed yoga as a promising intervention for cancer patients with sleep problems, limitations included a homogenous group of participants and a large number of participants who dropped out of the study prematurely. Researchers also cautioned that more strenuous styles of yoga may not be beneficial or appropriate for cancer survivors.

To read the study’s abstract click here.