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Yoga helps cancer survivors sleep better

Press AssociationPress Association 6/06/2016

Yoga can improve the sleep of people who have battled cancer, research suggests.

Two 75-minute sessions a week for four weeks helps people feel less tired, while they also report better social, physical and emotional wellbeing.

Researchers behind the small study said sleep problems typically occurred in 30 per cent to 60 per cent of cancer patients and survivors. This may be due to the side-effects of cancer drugs, or anxiety.

The researchers from the University of Rochester, in New York, studied 245 women who had been treated for early-stage breast cancer, with an average age of 54.

All the women said they were suffering sleep problems and filled in a questionnaire about their energy and pain levels, sleep patterns, social interactions, sex life, mental state and ability to work.

The women were then split into two groups, with the first following a course of yoga for cancer survivors, while the others did no yoga at all.

The course included breathing exercises, meditation and yoga postures.

After four weeks, all women were questioned again about their lifestyle. Those who had done yoga reported better sleep quality, less insomnia and less fatigue.

Lead researcher Dr Anita Peoples said: "This low-to-moderate intensity yoga was found to be very beneficial for breast cancer survivors.

"As yet, nothing has been found that works as well as yoga at improving quality of life among those who have suffered from the disease.

"It is safe, drug-free and has no side-effects.

She said the reason why yoga improves quality of life is unknown, but added: "It strengthens muscles, reduces anxiety and allows those who practice it to do more in their life.

"I see no reason why yoga would not also benefit people who have suffered from other types of cancer, but that would need to be tested."

Adrienne Betteley, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Many people affected by cancer unfortunately have insomnia and long periods of not sleeping well which is often detrimental to their quality of life.

"There are many reasons that this might be the case such as worry and anxiety as well as certain medicines used in cancer treatments.

"I would advise people to consider getting active to help and it makes sense that yoga, which involves gentle stretching and meditation, is helpful in improving sleep disturbance and quality of life as a result."

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