As previously discussed, tai chi has many health benefits that range from improved cardiovascular health, pain management, improved balance, increased flexibility and of course improved states of mental health. One of the prior issues we have brushed upon is insomnia and insomnia is often coupled with anxiety.
So can Chinese Exercise Therapy be used to assist with improving sleep?
Anxiety and sleep quality in university undergraduates aged 18-40 was observed for improvement in a research study using tai chi over a 10 week period with results presenting overall improvement in sleep quality for both control and intervention (tai chi) groups however a greater improvement was seen in the intervention group which also saw a reduction in anxiety levels whereas no report of lowered anxiety appeared in the control group (Cadwell et al., 2016).
As the research shows, there was clear evidence that tai chi can assist in the sleep quality of high stress and highly anxious individuals such as university students. The mechanism behind this is two fold.
Firstly, movement will assist in moving any blockages within the body which triggers the body mind connection and secondly a clearer head allows for the normalisation of body function which is of course the mind body connection; after all when the body moves – the mind grooves.
Tai chi is a form of meditation and other research has discovered meditation to be just as effective if not more so than medication in assisting with sleep. This is on top of the added bonus of having no cost (out side of learning it) and no side effects.
So if you have trouble sleeping due to a mind that will not turn off, consider trying some tai chi. The benefits are well researched and well documented and it is a life skill that can improve your health, mental state and even social interactions.
As always for those who wish to read the full research, please find the reference here:
Cadwell, KL., Bergman, SM., Collier, SR., Triplett, NT., Quin, R., Bergguist, J. & Pieper, CF. (2016). Effects of tai chi chuan on anxiety and sleep quality in young adults: lessons from a randomized controlled feasibility study. Nat Sci Sleep, 8. doi: 10.2147/NSS.S117392.