The benefits of exercise and meditation have been cited as some of the best ways to improve cognition, boost brain function, and reduce cognitive decline when aging. A specific type of mindfulness called yoga nidra is making headlines as one of the best ways to help sleep, memory, and cognitive thinking.
A recent study from the journal PLOS ONE studied how this type of yoga affects memory and cognition. Yoga nidra is different from other types of yoga which mostly teach breathing rhythms and physical postures; this discipline of yoga is aimed at relaxation techniques while lying down. To test how well yoga nidra performed for healthy adults, study participants completed two weeks of yoga nidra training in twenty-minute sessions from a guided audio track.
While the participants went through the guided session, they were monitored through polysomnography which measured brain activity during their sleep. They practiced the yoga nidra during the day, and within the two weeks, participants had increased the amount of delta-wave sleep and were better at getting to sleep.
When they performed cognitive and memory tests after the two weeks, participants also improved their time and accuracy. Yoga nidra could be an easy way to harness the cascade of effects that come from better sleep and improve daytime cognitive functions.
Karuna Datta, Anna Bhutambare, Mamatha V. L., Yogita Narawa, Rajagopal Srinath, Madhuri Kanitkar. Improved sleep, cognitive processing and enhanced learning and memory task accuracy with Yoga nidra practice in novices. PLOS ONE, 2023; 18 (12): e0294678 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0294678