Yoga Helps Cancer Survivors Beat Fatigue and Sleep Better

| by Toni Brayer MD

Patients who carry a diagnosis of cancer can be heartened by the results of a study that will be presented June 5 at the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting. The researchers found that the practice of yoga helped cancer survivors improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue. 

The lead researcher, Dr. Karen Mustian, professor of radiation oncology and community and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester in New York,  followed 410 patients who had already completed treatment for cancer, but who experienced sleep disturbance that required medication. Seventy-five percent of the patients had a diagnosis of breast cancer, and none had sleep apnea.

The patients who started a yoga program (75 minutes twice a week) were able to decrease their use of sleep medication by 21% after just four weeks, compared with the control group who did not do yoga. The yoga patients also experienced less fatigue and a reduction in daytime sleepiness.

It seems like a simple thing, but improving quality of life by using complementary medicine is a very important treatment. There are millions of patients who have been treated for cancer who might benefit from starting yoga. All physicians who treat cancer patients should recommend yoga, as well as writing prescriptions.

To read the abstract go here.

Photo is one of our fantastic volunteer RNs in Haiti, doing her yoga to stay centered after working all night providing relief medical care.