Improving sleep quality
August 2008Â - Research from the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology published inÂ SleepÂ found that practising tai chi chih, the western version of an ancient Chinese martial art, helped improve sleep quality in older adults. It has previously been shown to be effective in reducing tension headaches and high blood pressure and in boosting the immune system of elderly people with shingles.
Researchers explain that 58 per cent of adults age 59 and older report difficulties in sleeping. The majority (85 per cent) do not seek treatment. The remainder tend to rely on costly, sometimes inaccessible behavioral therapies or more commonly on ...view middle of the document...
Michael Irwin concluded:
"It's a form of exercise virtually every elderly person can do, and this study provides more across-the-board evidence of its health benefits."
Daytime napping and disturbed sleep
May 2008Â - Poor sleeping at night has been linked to daytime napping for older adults according to a study just published in the journalÂ SLEEP.
Suzanne E. Goldman, PhD, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., and her colleagues measured the sleeping habits (day and night) of 235 people with an average age of 80.1 years. They used wrist monitors and sleep diaries for an average of amlmost a week. Three quarters (75.7%) of the subjects recorded naps of at least five minutes in their sleep diaries. Participants who showed higher levels of fragmented sleep at night, respiratory symptoms, diabetes, or pain were more likely to report napping.
Participants who said they had diabetes averaged 43% longer nap duration, while those who reported pain averaged 27.5% shorter nap duration.
According to Suzanne Goldman:
"Our study is important both clinically and for future research. It points out the need for health care providers to discuss nighttime sleep and daytime napping with older individuals. It also points out the need to identify the causes of disturbed nighttime sleep in order to determine appropriate treatment. Our study suggests that that older adults nap because of health problems and disrupted sleep at night. Thus the napping may reflect needed sleep."
Poor sleep can lead to problems, and these are more likely for older adults. Such problems include:
depressed mood, attention and memory problems
night-time falls, and
more use of over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids
Recent studies have also associated a lack of sleep with a number of serious health problems such as increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep a night to be at our best the next day but as we age we may find this harder to obtain. Some advice for improving sleep patterns:
Establish a routine sleep schedule.
Avoid using your bed for anything but sleep or intimacy.
Avoid substances like alcohol or caffeine that disturb sleep,
Avoid napping during the day. If you have to nap, limit napping to less than one hour and no later than 3 p.m.
Stick to rituals that relax you before bed such as a warm bath, a light snack or a few minutes of reading.
Try not to take your worries to bed (perhaps easier said than done).
When you can't fall asleep, leave the bedroom and engage in a quiet activity. Go back to bed only when you are tired.
Keep the bedroom...