Mindful Meditation Could Help Improve Sleep Quality in Older Adults

Sleepless nights filled with anxiety about the day's events buzzing through our minds could be helped through a little mindful meditation every day.

Mindful Meditation Could Help Improve Sleep Quality in Older Adults

Alexandra Sifferlin from Time reports that it's not just teens or adults that aren't getting enough sleep these days, but also approximately half of people over the age of 55 complain of having sleep issues. However, a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine has found evidence suggesting meditation may be a promising solution to a restful night's sleep.

Meditation has recently been getting the spotlight in many articles relating to managing stress and increasing wellness for all age groups (perhaps we should take the hint). The researchers of this study sought to follow the trends, and focused their attention on 49 men and women around the age of 66 who had been experiencing sleep problems. The participants were split into two groups: one learning about sleep hygiene and the other mindful meditation.

For the next six weeks, the meditation group gathered for two hours each week, learning about a variety of meditation practices and mindfulness techniques. The group was told to continue their exercises at home, but never talked about how it would help improve their sleep in the sessions. Likely, in order to avoid a placebo effect or as the study's author, David S. Black of the University of Southern California, said:

“A lot of individuals who are undergoing sleep problems don’t want to talk about their sleep anymore. It just further exacerbates their issue.”

By the study's conclusion, researchers found the people who participated in the mindfulness exercises scored higher for sleep quality than those in the sleep hygiene group. Black speculates on the results, saying:

“Before going to bed, people who can’t sleep worry a lot, and they start ruminating about not being able to sleep. Through mindfulness practice, people learn how to observe thoughts without having to elaborate. It allows people to be present without further interpretation of their symptoms.”

It's important to note that these findings aren't conclusive, but numerous people have attested to mindful meditation and its ability to calm those who practice it. In his Big Think interview Nightline anchor, Dan Harris, attests to their boosts to health and wellness, and predicts how meditation will grow out of its obscurity and into the mainstream culture as something of a daily routine — as normal as brushing one's teeth before bed.

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