September 27, 2013

Yoga in menopause may help insomnia—but not hot flashes

Group Health researchers and patients in multisite randomized controlled trial

Seattle, WA—Taking a 12-week yoga class and practicing at home was linked to less insomnia—but not to fewer or less bothersome hot flashes or night sweats. The link between yoga and better sleep was the only statistically significant finding in this MsFLASH (Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health) Network randomized controlled trial.

Katherine Newton, PhD “Many women suffer from insomnia during menopause, and it’s good to know that yoga may help them,” said lead author Katherine Newton, PhD, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute. She e-published these findings in Menopause, ahead of print.

“Hormone therapy is the only Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for hot flashes and night sweats,” Dr. Newton said, “and fewer women are opting for hormone therapy these days.” That’s why MsFLASH tried to see whether three more “natural” approaches—yoga, exercise, or fish oil—might help ease these menopause symptoms. The study assigned 249 healthy, previously sedentary women at multiple sites, including Group Health, to do yoga, a moderate aerobic exercise program, or neither—and to take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement or a placebo.

Exercise seemed linked to slightly improved sleep and less insomnia and depression, and yoga also was linked to better sleep quality and less depression—but these effects were not statistically significant. The omega-3 supplement was not linked to any improvement in hot flashes, night sweats, sleep, or mood.


>Susan D. Reed, MD, MPH
S. Reed,
MD, MPH

>Karen J. Sherman, PhD
K. Sherman,
PhD

Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD
L. LaCroix,
PhD
Dr. Newton’s coauthors were Susan D. Reed, MD, MPH, of the University of Washington (UW), who is an affiliate investigator at Group Health Research Institute; Karen J. Sherman, PhD, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute; Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute who is also at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Katherine A. Guthrie, PhD, Garnet L. Anderson, PhD, Joseph C. Larson, MS, and Julie R. Hunt, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Cathryn Booth-LaForce, PhD, of the UW; Bette Caan, DrPH, and Barbara Sternfeld, PhD, of Kaiser Permanente Medical Program of Northern California, in Oakland; Janet S. Carpenter, PhD, RN, and Lee A. Learman, MD, PhD, of Indiana University; Ellen W. Freeman, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania; Lee S. Cohen, MD, and Hadine Joffe, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital; and Kristine E. Ensrud, MD, MPH, Veterans Affairs, the University of Minnesota, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a cooperative agreement issued by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Office of Research on Women’s Health, and grants U01AG032656, U01AG032659, U01AG032669, U01AG032682, U01AG032699, and U01AG032700 from the NIA. At Indiana University, the project was partly funded by the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, grant UL1RR02571 from the NIH, National Center for Research Resources, and Clinical and Translational Sciences Award.

Group Health Research Institute
Group Health Research Institute does practical research that helps people like you and your family stay healthy. The Institute is the research arm of Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative, a consumer-governed, nonprofit health care system. Founded in 1947, Group Health Cooperative coordinates health care and coverage. Group Health Research Institute changed its name from Group Health Center for Health Studies in 2009. Since 1983, the Institute has conducted nonproprietary public-interest research on preventing, diagnosing, and treating major health problems. Government and private research grants provide its main funding.

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