HealthDay News — Mindfulness meditation may help older adults get a better night’s sleep, a small study suggests.
Researchers found that among 49 older adults with sleep problems, those who learned mindfulness practices started sleeping better within six weeks. In fact, they did better than their counterparts who were given conventional lessons on good sleep habits, the study authors said.
Experts said the findings, published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, are encouraging.
On average, the effects of the mindfulness program were comparable to what’s been seen in studies of sleep medications and “talk therapy,” said study leader David Black, PhD, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles.
According to Black, that means older adults can feel comfortable opting for “mind-body” practices as a way to address moderate sleep problems. But he also emphasized the structured nature of the program tested in his study.
“From our results, it is worth a try to engage in a structured mindfulness-based intervention led by a certified teacher with extensive experience,” Black said.
In general, “mindfulness” practices encourage people to focus their attention on the present moment, instead of the past or future, and to take an objective look at their thoughts and emotions.
Black DS, et al. Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults With Sleep Disturbances. JAMA Intern Med. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081.