The Effects of Tai Chi on Sleep Quality in Chinese American Patients With Major Depressive Disorder: A Pilot Study

Yan Ma, Alicia Yeung, Albert C. Yang, Chung Kang Peng, Alisabet Clain, Jonathan Alpert, Maurizio Fava, Albert S. Yeung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: This pilot study evaluated the effects of Tai Chi training on sleep quality (primary outcomes), and depression and social functioning levels (secondary outcomes) among patients with depression. Participants: Sixteen depressed Chinese patients. Methods: Participants received 1-hr Tai Chi training sessions 2 times per week for 10 weeks. Patients’ subjective sleep quality ratings, objective sleep quality measurements, and depression and social functioning levels were measured before, during, and after the intervention. Results: Sleep quality and depression outcomes improved significantly. Patients reported improved Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) scores (9.6 ± 3.3 to 6.6 ± 5.2, p = 0.016), and cardiopulmonary coupling (CPC) analysis of electrocardiogram (ECG) showed decreased stable sleep onset latency (75.7 ± 100.6 to 20.9 ± 18.0, p = 0.014), increased stable sleep percentages (31.5 ± 18.7 to 46.3 ± 16.9, p = 0.016), and decreased unstable sleep percentages (45.3 ± 20.1 to 30.6 ± 16.5, p = 0.003). Patients also reported decreased Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D-17; 20.1 ± 3.7 to 7.8 ± 5.9, p < 0.001) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scores (22.3 ± 9.1 to 11.1 ± 10.6, p = 0.006). Significant correlations were found between the changes in subjective sleep assessments ΔPSQI and ΔHAM-D-17 (r = 0.6, p = 0.014), and ΔPSQI and ΔBDI (r = 0.62, p = 0.010). Correlations between changes in objective sleep measurements and changes in depression symptoms were low and not significant. Conclusions: Tai Chi training improved sleep quality and mood symptoms among depressed patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)398-411
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral Sleep Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 4 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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