Practising just 20 minutes of yoga nidra daily can improve sleep, cognition, learning and memory, even in beginners, according to an Indian study published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Yoga nidra is a type of meditation that guides people into a state of conscious relaxation while they are lying down.
The study, led by Dr Karuna Datta and colleagues of the Armed Forces Medical College in India, used objective parameters such as electroencephalogram (EEG), polysomnography (measuring brain activity during sleep) and a series of cognitive tests to analyse the impact of yoga nidra on the sleep and cognition of a group of novice practitioners before and after the study.
The study involved 41 healthy young men, who practised 20-minute sessions of guided yoga nidra daily for two weeks. At the end of the study, overall sleep quality and the percentage of time spent in deep sleep known as delta sleep increased significantly for all participants.
They also performed better in all cognitive tests with faster and more accurate responses in tasks that measured working memory, abstraction, fear and anger recognition and spatial learning and memory.
“Yoga nidra practice improves sleep and makes brain processing faster. Accuracy also increased, especially with learning and memory related tasks,” the study said.