Extended sleep onset latency (SOL), or “sleep onset insomnia,” can decrease total sleep time, increasing risk for many health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and all-cause mortality. Sleep disorders persist in the United States despite current behavioral/pharmaceutical remedies, with 10% to 15% of the population suffering from insomnia. Mind-body therapies offer additional solutions, as meditation has been correlated with decreased SOL. More research on use of mind-body practices for insomnia is needed. This study investigates the guided meditation practice of Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep) as a promising intervention for sleep disorders because of its purported ability to induce mental, physical, and emotional relaxation. In this pilot study, we address the feasibility of Yoga Nidra for insomnia, appropriateness of our selected measurement systems, and effect of Yoga Nidra on brainwaves, sleep onset, and the autonomic nervous system. Our study sample includes 22 adults, ages 18–45, with insomnia. The design includes two clinic visits (V1, lying quietly for 90 min; V2, randomization to 90-min lying quietly vs. 30-min Yoga Nidra plus 60-min lying quietly), taking place 1 to 14 days apart. Outcomes measured during/after Yoga Nidra (vs. control) include sleep onset, electroencephalography (EEG) power, heart rate variability (HRV), and respiratory rate. Self-reported mood and anxiety will be measured before/after each visit. Resulting physiological, psychological, and feasibility data will be used to inform future clinical studies of Yoga Nidra for sleep and relaxation.

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