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Elderly's restless nights helped by ancient martial art
Date:6/20/2008

More than half of all older adults complain about having difficulties sleeping. Most don't bother seeking treatment. Those who do usually turn either to medications, which can lead to other health problems, or behavior therapies, which are costly and often not available close to home.

Now, UCLA researchers report that practicing tai chi chih, the Westernized version of a 2,000-year-old Chinese martial art, promotes sleep quality in older adults with moderate sleep complaints. The study, which will be published in the journal Sleep, is currently available in the journal's online edition.

In the study, 112 healthy adults ranging in age from 59 to 86 were randomly assigned to one of two groups for a 25-week period: The first group practiced 20 simple tai chi chih moves; the other participated in health education classes that included advice on stress management, diet and sleep habits.

At the beginning of the study, participants were asked to rate their sleep based on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a self-rated questionnaire that assesses sleep quality, duration and disturbances over a one-month time interval.

The study found that the tai chi chih group showed improved sleep quality and a remission of clinical impairments, such as drowsiness during the day and inability to concentrate, compared with those receiving health education. The tai chi chih participants showed improvements in their own self-rating of sleep quality, sleep duration and sleep disturbance.

"Poor sleeping constitutes one of the most common difficulties facing older adults," said lead study author Dr. Michael Irwin, the Norman Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.

Irwin noted that 58 percent of adults age 59 and older report having difficulty sleeping at least a few nights each wee
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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