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As you age, you may find it harder to sleep soundly. But a relatively uncomplicated change of mental focus that is easy to learn may help you slumber with fewer disturbances.
A study at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, shows that practicing mindfulness meditation can improve the sleep of older people who frequently have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep at night.
Research shows that about 50 percent of people over the age of 55 suffer from significant sleep problems. Those frustratingly persistent insomnia difficulties lead to higher levels of fatigue, depression and a generally lower quality of life for older adults. In some cases, sleep disturbances have been linked to cardiovascular disease and premature death.
In the California study, two dozen people, average age 66, were trained in mindful awareness and were tested to see if it improved their sleep compared to another group that was not trained.
The results: Mindfulness meditation produced decreases in problems with insomnia, improved people’s moods, increased personal energy and reduced fatigue.
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The researchers conclude: “… 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… 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.”