Research conducted by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Centre suggests the likelihood of sleep disorders
in women with metastatic breast cancer can be predicted using breathing, heart rate and cortisol level data.
For the first time, scientists have made an association between poor sleeping patterns and the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls breathing and heart rate.
As such, Oxana Palesh, research assistant professor at Rochester's James P Wilmot Cancer Centre and the study's lead author, believes that some sleep disorders can be resolved by regulating deep diaphragmatic breathing.
"We were able to identify the role that the parasympathetic nervous system plays in insomnia," Dr Palesh said.
"It's reasonable to suggest that simple breathing exercises may help more than we realise with insomnia."
Yoga and meditation have been advocated by Dr Palesh as ways in which deep diaphragmatic breathing can be brought under control.
The study appears in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.