20 minutes of yoga nidra leads to better sleep and memory, study finds


New research reveals that just 20 minutes of yoga nidra, a type of mindfulness training, can significantly improve sleep quality and cognitive abilities.

About yoga nidra: Unlike more active forms of yoga emphasizing physical postures, breathing, and muscle control, yoga nidra guides practitioners into a state of conscious relaxation while lying down. The practice, described by practitioners as an “awake aware sleep,” is done in a supine posture.

About the study: A study conducted by researchers from the Armed Forces Medical College in India, involved novice practitioners doing 20-minute sessions of yoga nidra during the day for two weeks. The research, published in the journal PLoS ONE on Dec. 13, found that those who did the audio-guided sessions saw a notable increase in sleep efficiency and the proportion of delta waves during deep sleep.

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Additional findings: The participants also displayed faster and more accurate responses in various cognitive tests without compromising precision. These cognitive improvements included tasks related to learning, memory, abstraction, fear and anger recognition, as well as spatial learning and memory.

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

Objective methodology: While there have been previous studies conducted relying on subjective measures, the new study’s objective approach provided more accuracy in observations on tasks related to spatial learning, abstraction and working memory. The study utilized polysomnographic measures of sleep and a battery of cognitive tests to objectively assess the impact of yoga nidra.

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