Insomnia rates continue to rise, especially among specific populations. Current nonpharmacological treatments rely primarily upon cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which was introduced in the 1970s. Newer treatments have incorporated CBT “third wave” techniques, including mindfulness and acceptance techniques. Yoga practice is well suited to complement existing therapies and to address sleep problems in a more holistic way. Current theoretical and empirical approaches to treating insomnia are discussed, with an emphasis on the role of yoga in addressing precipitating and perpetuating factors in insomnia that have previously been largely overlooked.
An estimated one-third of U.S. adults suffer from insomnia (Chen, Gelaye, & Williams, 2013; Mellinger, Balter, & Uhlenhuth, 1985; Ohayon, 2002), and the problem appears to be growing. While treatment for insomnia has helped to alleviate the problem for some (Irwin, Cole, & Nicassio, 2006; Morin et al., 2009), prevalence of insomnia is on the rise, especially among certain groups, including elderly and military populations (Morin, 2009; Mysliwiec et al., 2013). Rising rates of insomnia have been attributed to changes in lifestyle and environmental factors, including increased reliance on technology and decreased synchrony with natural wake-sleep rhythms (Brahinsky, 2013; Wallace-Guy et al., 2002; Yun, Bazar, Gerber, Lee, & Daniel, 2005).