Yoga for improving sleep quality and quality of life for older adults

Altern Ther Health Med. 2014 May-Jun;20(3):37-46.


Context: The aging process is associated with physiological changes that affect sleep. In older adults, undiagnosed and untreated insomnia may cause impaired daily function and reduced quality of life (QoL). Insomnia is also a risk factor for accidents and falls that are the main cause of accidental deaths in older adults and, therefore, is associated with higher morbidity and mortality rates in older populations.

Objectives: The research team aimed to (1) examine the efficacy of a yoga intervention (YI) for the treatment of insomnia in older adults, (2) determine the ability of yoga to enhance the QoL of older adults, and (3) establish the applicability of yoga practice for older people in a Western cultural setting.

Design: A waiting-list controlled trial. Settings • The study took place in Jerusalem, Israel, from 2008-2009.

Participants: Participants were older men and women (age ≥ 60 y) with insomnia.

Intervention: The YI group participated in 12 wk of classes, held 2 ×/wk, incorporating yoga postures, meditative yoga, and daily home practice of meditative yoga.

Outcome measures: The study used self-report assessments of sleep quality using the following: (1) sleep quality-the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS), the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and daily sleep and practice logs; (2) mood states-the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale long form (DASS-42) and the Profile of Mood States short form (POMS-SF); (3) a health survey (SF-36); and (4) mobile at-home sleep studies.

Results: Compared with controls, the YI group showed significant improvements in a range of subjective factors, including overall sleep quality; sleep efficiency; sleep latency and duration; self-assessed sleep quality; fatigue; general well-being; depression; anxiety; stress; tension; anger; vitality; and function in physical, emotional, and social roles.

Conclusions: Yoga was shown to be safe and improved sleep and QoL in a group of older adults with insomnia. Outcomes depended on practice compliance.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga / psychology*