Specialized yoga program means better sleep for some cancer survivors

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Researchers at the University of Rochester have posted an abstract of a phase II/III trial to determine whether a yoga program specifically designed for cancer survivors could help solve some sleep problems among patients recovering from cancer treatment.


410 survivors of early stage cancer, predominantly female (96%) and largely breast cancer (75%) who reported some sleep problems in the months (between 2 and 24) following adjuvant cancer therapy.

Patients were randomized into two groups, 1) one group received standard care monitoring, 2) the other group received a four-week yoga program (biweekly 75-minute sessions)


At the end of the trial, twice as many patients in the yoga program reported having overcome their impaired sleep issues (as measured on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) than in the control group.

There was also a considerable drop among yoga participants' use of sleeping pills, while their use among the other group went up. Furthermore, the yoga group experienced less daytime sleepiness, which no doubt contributed to their ability to sleep at night.

The yoga program used in this study was designed specifically for cancer survivors, known as UR Yoga for Cancer Survivors or YOCAS®. It is low-impact, featuring visualization, meditation, breathing exercises, and some gentle postures in standing, seated, transitional, and lying-down positions.


These results were presented in a press conference for the upcoming 2010 ASCO Annual Meeting; they have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal yet and until then should be considered preliminary only.

By Ross Bonander

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