Erica Forzley

Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School/College

Health and Human Performance

Committee Chair

Dr. Laura Dybdal

Committee Co-chair

Dr. Blakely Brown

Commitee Members

Dr. Annie Sondag, Dr. Dan Lee


Trauma sensitive yoga intervention, female, sleep, veteran, college student


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Public Health


Early sleep research in the 1970’s reported that sleep problems were due to cognitive and physiological arousal (Kennedy, 2014; Ong, Ulmer, & Manber, 2005). Recent research suggests that in addition to arousal, maladaptive beliefs and attitudes contribute to sleep problems (Kennedy, 2014; Ong et al., 2005). Techniques to decrease cognitive and physiological arousal include exercise, relaxation techniques, and talk therapy (Kennedy, 2014; Ong et al., 2005. To address maladaptive attitudes and beliefs mindfulness and acceptance techniques such as yoga are recommended (Kennedy, 2014; Ong et al., 2005). Untrue beliefs about how much sleep is needed and a tendency to avoid distressing emotions are patterns in individuals with sleep problems (Kennedy, 2014; Ong et al., 2005). Yoga was historically thought to balance physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions of an individual (Ross and Thomas, 2010). During a yoga class, individuals are encouraged to practice self- awareness and acceptance of their cognitive and emotional states (Ong et al., 2005). Yoga could change individuals’ maladaptive beliefs and attitudes in addition to decreasing cognitive and physiological arousal (Ong et al., 2005).

To test the impact of yoga on sleep, this researcher analyzed secondary sleep data from a pilot research study that was conducted in the spring of 2018 at University of Montana’s (UM) Mind Body lab. Twelve female participants in the pilot study completed a one-hour trauma-informed Hatha yoga class once per week for four weeks and recorded sleep measures for five weeks. The researcher was interested in whether participants’ sleep scores significantly differed during the five-week study. A secondary research question asked whether female veteran college students composite sleep scores differed over the five-week study and whether female non-veteran college students composite sleep scores differed over the five-week study. This researcher also asked whether four sleep variables differed over the five-week study and whether those four variables and a composite score differed in each age group over the five-week study. Results were non- significant and, this research confirms that further studies on trauma- informed yoga and sleep need to be conducted.



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