Maintaining daily routines associated with reduced rate of insomnia in the elderly

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April 6, 2010

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Maintaining daily routines may be the key to reducing the rate of insomnia and improving quality of sleep in older adults living in a retirement community according to a new study being reported in the journal SLEEP. Researcher Anna Zisberg, R.N., M.A., Ph.D., who co-authored the study, said that researchers "...predicted that there would be a relationship between routine activity patterns and sleep quality, since theoretically sleep patterns and other everyday life activities are related and potentially synchronized. However, given the widely accepted view that light is the major synchronizer of the human sleep-wake cycle, we were surprised that our findings were so robust."

The findings highlight the importance of developing lifestyle regularity as a means for maintaining good sleep quality . Results of regression analyses indicate that increased stability in daily routine predicted a shorter time to fall asleep, higher sleep efficiency and improved sleep quality. Stability in basic activities such as bathing, dressing and eating was more strongly associated with sleep quality than stability of instrumental activities such as shopping, public transportation use and medical appointments.

Higher sleep efficiency was associated with a more stable duration of basic and instrumental activities and with more stable lifestyle regularity. Poorer sleep quality was associated with less lifestyle regularity and more comorbidities. The authors also noted that changes in the circadian system are considered a natural part of aging and are implicated as an underlying factor of reduced sleep quality in the elderly.

Learn more about the " Contribution of Routine to Sleep Quality in Community Elderly " study and about sleep and aging.