A recent pilot study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE suggests that practicing Yoga Nidra, a form of mindfulness training, can potentially improve sleep quality, cognition, learning, and memory, even among new individuals.
Karuna Datta conducted the study from the Armed Forces Medical College in India and a team of researchers.
Yoga Nidra, in contrast to more physically active forms of yoga, focuses on conscious relaxation while individuals lie down.
While previous reports have suggested that Yoga Nidra can enhance sleep and cognitive abilities, these claims were primarily based on subjective measures.
This new study, however, utilizes objective polysomnographic measures to assess sleep and a battery of cognitive tests.
The research involved novice practitioners who engaged in a two-week Yoga Nidra intervention using a 20-minute audio recording during the daytime.
The researchers conducted measurements before and after the intervention to evaluate any changes.
Polysomnography, a technique that monitors brain activity during sleep, was employed to determine the duration and frequency of different sleep stages.
Following two weeks of Yoga Nidra practice, the participants demonstrated a significant improvement in sleep efficiency and increased the percentage of delta-waves during deep sleep.
Furthermore, the cognitive tests revealed faster response times in all tasks without a loss of accuracy. Participants also displayed quicker and more accurate responses in various tasks, including working memory, abstraction, recognition of fear and anger, and spatial learning and memory.
These findings align with previous research linking delta-wave sleep to improved sleep quality and enhanced attention and memory.
The study provides objective evidence that Yoga Nidra can effectively enhance sleep quality and cognitive performance. Importantly, Yoga Nidra is a cost-effective and easily accessible practice that could benefit many individuals.
The study’s authors conclude, “Yoga nidra practice improves sleep and makes brain processing faster. Accuracy also increased, especially with learning and memory related tasks.”
This research highlights the potential benefits of incorporating Yoga Nidra into daily routines to promote better sleep and cognitive function.
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The research findings can be found in PLOS ONE.
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