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Be mindful of your sleep

This meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials found that mindfulness-based interventions improved the sleep quality of adults with depression or anxiety disorders. Some types of interventions worked better than others.

Background

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) — which include mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), mindfulness meditation (MM), and other variations that facilitate mindfulness — have been studied for their potential beneficial effects on sleep. However, the effectiveness of different MBIs for improving sleep in individuals with depression or anxiety is unclear.

The study

This meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials examined the effects of different MBIs on sleep quality in a total of 541 adult participants (average ages of 33 to 65) with depression and/or anxiety disorders.

Five different types of MBI programs were studied: MBSR, MM, MBCT, internet mindfulness meditation intervention (IMMI), and mindfulness-based touch therapy (MBTT). The control groups used no intervention, participation in a discussion forum, slow breathing, sitting quietly, or stress management education. The duration of the interventions ranged from 6 to 12 weeks. Sleep quality was measured using the Insomnia Severity Index, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Bergen Insomnia Scale, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, or sleep diaries.

The results

Overall, MBIs improved sleep quality to a moderate degree. In the subgroup analyses based on MBI program, all programs except MM improved sleep quality, with the largest effect size observed for MBTT (large effect), followed by MBCT (large effect), IMMI (moderate effect), and MBSR (moderate effect).

Of the 10 trials, 2 had a high risk of bias, 6 had some methodological concerns, and 2 had a low risk of bias.

Note

The number of trials included in each of the subgroup analyses was small (between 1 and 3 trials). This reduces our confidence in the results of the subgroup analyses.

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