Insomnia is a prevalent health concern in older adults with numerous adverse consequences. Prior research suggests that the sleep disturbance and related complaints are driven by physiological hyperarousal and deficiencies in the autonomic nervous system, particularly parasympathetic activity, that inhibit healthy sleep-wake regulation. Pharmacological treatments are not viable long-term, and current behavioral and contemplative interventions are not effective for all individuals. With a randomized controlled trial design using an active control group, the proposed project aims to evaluate the efficacy of Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) as a potential alternative intervention for insomnia in a group of older adults. SKY is a promising strategy to alleviate sleep disturbance due to its targeted conditioning of parasympathetic activity. Changes in sleep will be measured objectively via wrist actigraphy and subjectively via sleep diary and questionnaire. Heart rate variability and various self-report measures will also be collected for exploratory analyses of related changes in autonomic function and well-being. Given the presence of sleep and autonomic disturbance in many other psychiatric conditions (e.g. anxiety and depression), these results are likely to have beneficial implications for a variety of populations and age groups.

Michael Goldstein

University of Arizona