App Intervention May Reduce Insomnia in Health Care Workers

Does the YOI intervention improve mental health workers’ insomnia? Research says yes.

Researchers studied an app-based Yoga of Immortals (YOI) intervention on the mental health of health care workers, including sleep disruption, and found that it produced a measurable benefit.1 There is a need to help health care workers with sleep trouble, as recent literature suggests that approximately 38% experienced insomnia during the COVID-19 pandemic.2

“There is a compelling societal interest in developing interventions targeting the emotional needs of health care workers who are facing a public health crisis,” wrote Currie et al.1

The YOI intervention teaches specific practices based on ancient yogic teachings and the 3 core components of the YOI program—breathwork, whole body movements, and postures—have multiple emotional benefits.3,4

In this study, health care workers were digitally recruited through social media, and their psychological parameters were measured using validated questionaries. The 445 participants were randomly grouped, with 151 in the test group and 294 in the control group. The YOI intervention consisted of twice daily 30-minute sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening, with a new session provided each week. Improvements in insomnia were tracked using the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI).

The morning sessions focused on whole-body movements, postures, and yogic breathwork synchronized with meditation and chants. The evening sessions focused on slow, deep yogic breathwork and meditations. The sessions became more advanced every week.

The improvement in the ISI scores week 12 was statistically significant (p < 0.0001 in Sidak’s multiple comparisons test) as compared to week 0 in the YOI group. In contrast, there was no improvement in the control group.

“The YOI intervention provides a unique combination of breath work, yoga and meditation that together produce a measurable benefit in this group most challenged by the pandemic. It can be safely accessed from anywhere, through a digital app, and can be utilized at the convenience of the health care worker, in a socially distanced manner,” concluded the authors.1

References

1. Currie K, Gupta BV, Shivanand I, et al. Reductions in anxiety, depression and insomnia in health care workers using a non-pharmaceutical intervention. Front Psychiatry. 2022;13;983165.

2. Pappa S, Ntella V, Giannakas T, et al. Prevalence of depression, anxiety, and insomnia among healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Brain Behav Immun. 2020;88:901-907.

3. Verma S, Donovan J, Tunuguntla HS, et al. Yoga of Immortals intervention reduces symptoms of depression, insomnia and anxiety. Front Psychiatry. 2021;12:648029.

4. Verma S, Donovan J, Bhat S, et al. Intervention on depression and insomnia symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ann Med Res Pract. 2021;2:5.