MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Katherine Newton, PhD
Senior Investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Answer: We found that when women took a 12-week yoga class and practiced yoga at home, they had significantly less insomnia than did women who did not. This was the only statistically significant finding in this MsFLASH (Menopause Strategies: Finding Lasting Answers for Symptoms and Health) Network randomized controlled trial. We also found that being in the yoga class did not decrease the number of hot flashes or night sweats. Yoga was linked to better sleep quality and less depression—but these effects were not statistically significant. In separate papers, published slightly earlier, our MsFLASH group reported that a non-yoga exercise program seemed linked to slightly improved sleep and less insomnia and depression—but these effects were not statistically significant. And an omega-3 (fish oil) supplement was not linked to any improvement in hot flashes, night sweats, sleep, or mood.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Answer: We do science to answer open questions, where we don’t really know what to expect; if we already knew what to expect, the science wouldn’t be worth doing. That said, I personally was hoping that we would find that doing yoga helped not only with insomnia but also with depression, sleep quality and hot flashes and night sweats. Hormone therapy is the only FDA-approved treatment for hot flashes and night sweats, and fewer women are opting for hormone therapy these days. Years ago, our team found that black cohosh didn’t seem to help with symptoms of menopause. Women could use more options that actually work.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Answer: Many women suffer from insomnia during menopause, and it’s good for them—and their clinicians—to know that yoga may help them. It gives them one more option—one with minimal side effects.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future?
Answer: There’s a need for future trials designed to assess which dose of yoga is needed to detect meaningful effects on insomnia symptoms, subjective sleep quality, and depressive symptoms.
From the 1Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, WA; 2Departments of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Epidemiology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA; 3Data Coordinating Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA; 4School of Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle, WA; 5Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Program of Northern California, Oakland, CA; 6School of Nursing, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN; 7Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN; 8Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; 9Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA; 10Department of Medicine, VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN; and 11Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.