This study from the Sleep Disorders Center in Turkey provides strong evidence that a Tai Chi and Qigong program (three times per week for twelve weeks) can significantly improve breathing during sleep and improve the quality of sleep in patients with sleep apnea.
Fifty participants were equally randomized into an intervention group and a control group. The intervention group received Tai Chi and Qigong instruction for 1 hour, 3 times a week with self-practice on 2 additional days for 12 weeks. The control group received a home exercise program only, for 5 days/week for 12 weeks.
Subjective and objective sleep measures, as well as pulmonary function test results were taken before and after the study period.
Results showed that the group receiving Tai Chi and Qigong instruction improved in both subjective and objective sleep quality and efficiency measures, as well as pulmonary function testing during sleep.
The authors concluded that Tai Chi and Qigong training may reduce oxygen deprivation during sleep, improve sleep quality and efficiency, and improve daytime alertness in people with obstructive sleep apnea.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary MedicineThe Effect of T'ai Chi and Qigong Training on Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Randomized Controlled Study
Gulhan Yilmaz Gokmen, Muhammed Emin Akkoyunlu, Lutfiye Kilic, and Candan AlgunPublished Online:14 Nov 2018 https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2018.0197
Objectives: This study aims to investigate the effects of t'ai chi and qigong (TCQ) training on severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).Design: A prospective, 12-week, single-center, double-blinded, randomized controlled trial.Setting: Sleep Disorders Center of Medical Faculty in Istanbul, Turkey.
Subjects: Fifty adult patients with mild and moderate OSA.Interventions: Patients were randomly allocated into either an intervention group or a control group. The intervention group (n = 25) received TCQ training under physiotherapist supervision for 1 h, three times per week, for 12 weeks and a home exercise program was provided for another 2 days. The control group (n = 25) received only a home exercise program for 12 weeks, 5 days per week.
Outcome measures: All patients were assessed before and after the exercise program. Objective parameters of sleep were measured by polysomnography, while subjective parameters of sleep were assessed using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and the 3-factor Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Pulmonary functions were assessed with a pulmonary function test; health-related quality of life was evaluated through the Short Form-36.
Results: In the intervention group, there was a statistically significant decrease in the apnea–hypopnea index (AHI) (p = 0.001) and percentage and duration of stage N2 sleep (p = 0.041 and p = 0.037, respectively), while there was a statistically significant increase in percentage and duration of stage N3 sleep when compared with the controls (p = 0.048 and p = 0.043, respectively). There was a statistically significant decrease in the ESS, PSQI sleep efficiency, and total scores (p = 0.001, p = 0.003, and p = 0.003, respectively).
Conclusions: Our study results suggest that TCQ training may reduce AHI and daytime sleepiness, while improving subjective sleep quality, in patients with mild and moderate OSA.