Background and objective: Sleep in older persons is characterized by decreased ability to stay asleep, resulting in fragmented sleep and reduced daytime alertness. Pharmacological treatment of insomnia in older persons is associated with hazardous side effects. Hence, the present study was designed to compare the effects of Yoga and Ayurveda on the self rated sleep in a geriatric population.
Methods: Of the 120 residents from a home for the aged, 69 were stratified based on age (five year intervals) and randomly allocated to three groups i.e., Yoga (physical postures, relaxation techniques, voluntarily regulated breathing and lectures on yoga philosophy), Ayurveda (a herbal preparation), and Wait-list control (no intervention). The groups were evaluated for self-assessment of sleep over a one week period at baseline, and after three and six months of the respective interventions.
Results: The Yoga group showed a significant decrease in the time taken to fall asleep (approximate group average decrease: 10 min, P<0.05), an increase in the total number of hours slept (approximate group average increase: 60 min, P< 0.05) and in the feeling of being rested in the morning based on a rating scale (P<0.05) after six months. The other groups showed no significant change.
Interpretation and conclusion: Yoga practice improved different aspects of sleep in a geriatric population.