Mindfulness Program Can Help Seniors Sleep Better

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Mindfulness Program for Sleep
Mindfulness Program for Sleep

(HealthDay News) — Mindfulness meditation may help older adults get a better night's sleep, according to a study published online February 16 in the JAMA Internal Medicine.

David Black, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues recruited 49 older adults with moderate sleep disturbances (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index >5). Black's team randomly assigned the participants to six weekly sessions of either sleep hygiene education or mindfulness training. The mindfulness group learned different meditation techniques, as well as how to eat and move with more attention.

The researchers found that among 49 older adults with sleep problems, those who learned mindfulness practices started sleeping better within six weeks. In fact, they did better than their counterparts who were given conventional lessons on good sleep habits, according to the study authors. The mindfulness group also showed greater improvements in depression symptoms and daytime fatigue.

"What I found most interesting about this [mindfulness] approach is that it's a non-drug option, and it's accessible to the community at large," Adam Spira, PhD, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, who wrote an editorial published with the study, told HealthDay. Classes in meditation are available in many communities, and there are books, websites, and CDs where people can learn mindfulness techniques. The course Black's team studied is available online, at http://marc.ucla.edu. The caveat, according to Spira, is that this study tested that specific program.

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