Thursday, March 12, 2020

On ‘World Sleep Day’, Study Brings Cheer To Chronic Insomniacs

Sleep plays a significant role in maintaining our vitality and well being. But unfortunately, a considerable proportion of the population struggle to obtain a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep for at least three nights a week for over a month, despite adequate circumstances to sleep may be called chronic insomnia. Poor sleep has been associated with mood disturbances, irritability and inability to focus, increased road traffic accidents, elevated blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes mellitus and strokes. There is also a significant association with depression and anxiety. While situational stresses can cause transient sleep problems or insomnia, sometimes there may be a progression to chronic insomnia. It may not be an exaggeration to say that there is no aspect of human wellbeing that is not positively influenced by a good sleep.

Heartfulness Meditation, a spiritual and wellness practice, improves sleep quality of sleep in patients suffering from chronic insomnia - as per findings of a study launched to coincide with the World Sleep Day. 13th of March is marked as World Sleep Day. Interestingly, the study was conducted in an office setting.

Kamlesh Patel affectionately called as Daaji, the guide of Heartfulness said, “How well we sleep and how deeply we sleep determines our state of mind throughout the day. Disciplining our sleep cycle changes our life. Increasing number on sleep studies are all pointing to far reaching benefits of sleep on physical, mental, emotional and recently on spiritual wellbeing of a person. Adequate and appropriate sleep ensures rounded development of an individual and meditation is proving to be an enabler of sleep even for chronic conditions. ”

A recent study published in the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives evaluated the effects of Heartfulness Meditation on chronic insomnia.  The study was authored by Jayaram Thimmapuram, Deborah Yommer, Luminita Tudor, Theodore Bell, Cristian Dumitrescu and Robert Davis of Wellspan York Hospital, York, Pennyslyvania, USA.

The study was conducted to investigate the effectiveness of Heartfulness Meditation coupled with sleep hygiene to treat chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia reflects a significant difficulty to either fall asleep or maintain sleep. Most often these problems continue for at least a month and often last for many years.  The results showed statistical improvements in the measures of Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) in Heartfulness meditators. It showed that Heartfulness meditation may facilitate the decrease and eventual cessation of sedative hypnotics in patients suffering from chronic insomnia.

Heartfulness Meditation offered by the Heartfulness Institute is a simple, easy to implement, heart-based meditation practice aimed at achieving a state of inner balance.

The study was conducted over two year period  with 45 patients  enrolled. Of them, 32 patients (71%) completed the entire eight weeks of the Heartfulness Meditation programme.

The results of the study demonstrated improvements in measures of ISI in those participating in a structured Heartfulness Meditation programme along with sleep hygiene. The mean insomnia severity scores decreased by more than half from 20.7 to 10.4.

This is the first study on insomnia using Heartfulness Meditation in an office setting. The meditation programme used in the study demonstrates the potential to improve sleep and wean off hypnotic pharmacotherapy agents in chronic insomnia. Twenty-four participants were on pharmacotherapy for sleep. At the end of the study eighteen of them (75%) were able to come off of them and another 3 (12.5%) were able to reduce the dose. As there are significant side effects that come along with the use of pharmacotherapy for sleep, it is important to explore ways to obtain a good night’s sleep.

The Heartfulness practice in this study involved 30 minutes of weekly guided meditation sessions along with a daily home practice of up to 40 minutes. The evening practice of rejuvenation  that helps in clearing up of the daily impressions of stresses and strains is unique to the practice of Heartfulness.The study also found that Heartfulness Meditation can be easily incorporated into the patient’s lifestyle, is cost-effective, and requires no special equipment. 

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