20 minutes of mindful yoga can lead to better sleep and memory

PUNE, India — Just 20 minutes of yoga can lead to better sleep and enhanced memory, new research explains. Scientists say that practicing yoga nidra, a type of mindfulness training, can improve sleep, cognitive abilities, learning, and memory, even for beginners.

Yoga nidra, in contrast to more active yoga styles that emphasize physical postures, breathing, and muscle control, leads practitioners into a state of conscious relaxation while lying down. Researchers from the Armed Forces Medical College in India found that after two weeks of yoga nidra practice, participants showed significant increases in sleep efficiency and the proportion of delta waves during deep sleep.

Furthermore, these participants displayed quicker responses in cognitive tests without sacrificing accuracy. They also had faster and more precise responses in various tasks, such as tests of working memory, abstraction, fear and anger recognition, and spatial learning and memory.

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Photo by Anton Shuvalov on Unsplash

The study involved measuring the effects on a group of novice practitioners before and after a two-week yoga nidra regimen. This practice was conducted during the day using a 20-minute audio recording. These results corroborate previous studies linking delta-wave sleep to improved sleep quality, better attention, and enhanced memory.

Along with the potential health benefits, Professor Karuna Datta and the team note that yoga nidra is a low-cost, highly accessible activity that could benefit many people.

“Yoga nidra practice improves sleep and makes brain processing faster. Accuracy also increased, especially with learning and memory related tasks,” the researchers write in a media release.

The research is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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South West News Service writer Isobel Williams contributed to this report.

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