Washington DC: Yoga is not only a healthy way of meditating and maintaining overall wellness but can also better an individual's sleep along with limiting their dependence on medicines for back pain and sleep disturbance.
A new study has highlighted that Yoga and physical therapy (PT) are effective approaches to treating the aforementioned conditions while reducing the need for medication.
Published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the research showed significant improvements in sleep quality lasting 52 weeks after 12 weeks of yoga classes or one-on-one PT, which suggests a long-term benefit of these non-pharmacologic approaches.
In addition, participants with early improvements in pain after 6 weeks of treatment were three and a half times more likely to have improvements in sleep after the full, 12-week treatment, highlighting that pain and sleep are closely related.
Sleep disturbance and insomnia are common among people with chronic low back pain (cLBP). Previous research showed that 59 per cent of people with cLBP experience poor sleep quality and 53 per cent are diagnosed with insomnia disorder.
Why medicines aren't a good option is because it can have serious side effects, and risk of opioid-related overdose and death increases with use of sleep medications.
"Identifying holistic ways to treat these conditions could help decrease the reliance on these medications as well as keep patients safer and more comfortable," said study lead, Eric Roseen, DC, MSc, a researcher in the department of family medicine at BMC.
The randomized controlled trial included 320 adults with cLBP from BMC and seven surrounding community health centers. At the beginning of the study, over 90 per cent of participants with cLBP were found to suffer from poor sleep.
Participants were assigned one of three different therapies for cLBP: physical therapy, weekly yoga, or reading educational materials.
Previous research from BMC discovered that yoga and PT are similarly effective for lowering pain and improving physical function, reducing the need for pain medication.
In this study, results for sleep improvements were compared over a 12-week intervention period and after 1 year of follow-up.
"The high prevalence of sleep problems in adults with chronic low back pain can have detrimental effects on a person's overall health and well-being," said Roseen.
"This really emphasizes the need for providers to ask patients with chronic low back pain about the quality of their sleep. Given the serious risks of combining pain and sleep medications, nonpharmacologic approaches should be considered for these patients," Roseen explained.