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18 Feb, 2015

Health & wellness: Mindfulness meditation may help older adults sleep better – study

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — Mindfulness meditation practices may help improve sleep quality in older adults with moderate sleep disturbance, a U.S. study said Monday.

An estimated 50 percent of individuals 55 years and older have some sort of sleep problem in the United States, and moderate sleep disturbances in older adults are associated with higher levels of fatigue, disturbed mood such as depressive symptoms, and a reduced quality of life, said the study published online by the U.S. journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study recruited 49 people with an average age of 66, 24 of whom were taught how to learn standardized mindful awareness practices, 25 of whom participated in a sleep hygiene education intervention that helped them adopt better sleep habits.

Differences between the groups were measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), a widely used self-reported questionnaire of sleep disturbances. The PSQI scores range from 0 to 21, with lower scores indicating better sleep quality.

After six weeks, participants in the mindfulness group showed greater improvement relative to those in the sleep hygiene education group, said the study led by David Black of the University of Southern California.

The mindfulness group had average PSQI scores of 10.2 at baseline and 7.4 after the intervention, while the sleep hygiene education group had average PSQIs of 10.2 at baseline and 9.1 after the intervention.

The mindfulness group also showed improvement relative to the sleep hygiene education group on secondary measures of insomnia symptoms, depression symptoms, fatigue interference and fatigue severity.

“According to our findings, mindfulness meditation appears to have a role in addressing the prevalent burden of sleep problems among older adults,” the study concluded.