Emerging research suggests mindfulness meditation training helps improve sleep quality for older adults more effectively than traditional interventions.
Mindfulness meditation practices were compared to a more structured program that focused on changing poor sleep habits and establishing a bedtime routine.
Study results have been published online in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Sleep disturbances are a medical and public health concern for our nation’s aging population. An estimated 50 percent of individuals 55 years and older have some sort of sleep problem.
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, according to the study background.
David S. Black, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and coauthors conducted the small clinical trial in Los Angeles in 2012 and their analysis included 49 individuals (average age 66).
The trial compared 24 individuals who took part in a standardized mindful awareness practices (MAPs) intervention and 25 individuals who participated in a sleep hygiene education (SHE) intervention. Differences between the groups were measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), a widely used self-reported questionnaire of sleep disturbances.
Participants in the MAPs group showed improvement relative to those in the SHE group.
Specifically, the MAPs group had average sleep quality scores of 10.2 at baseline and 7.4 after the intervention. The SHE group had average sleep quality scores of 10.2 at baseline and 9.1 after the intervention, study results show.
The MAPs group also showed improvement relative to the SHE group on secondary measures of insomnia symptoms, depression symptoms, fatigue interference, and fatigue severity.
However, differences between the groups were not seen for anxiety, stress, or inflammatory signaling, a measure of which declined in both groups over time.
“According to our findings, mindfulness meditation appears to have a role in addressing the prevalent burden of sleep problems among older adults by remediating their moderate sleep disturbances and deficits in daytime functioning, with short-term effect sizes commensurate with the status quo of clinical treatment approaches for sleep problems. …” say the authors.
Researchers also remark that standardized mindfulness programs are being delivered in many communities. Thus, although addition research is required to replicate the findings, “structured mindfulness meditation training appears to have at least some clinical usefulness to remediate moderate sleep problems and sleep-related daytime impairment in older adults.”
Source: The JAMA Network Journals