Tai Chi Improves Sleep for Older Adults

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on May 18, 2010

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Regular tai chi practice may improve the quality of sleep and, consequently, the quality of life for older adults. Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep is a persistent issue for many older people. Medications can help, but they may cause unpleasant or harmful side effects, such as daytime confusion, falls, fractures or adverse interactions with other prescriptions. Studies show that consistent exercise helps older people sleep, but many elderly persons cannot participate in rigorous activity. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), wanted to determine whether tai chi practice, a gentler form of movement, might provide sleep benefits.

Investigators recruited 112 healthy adults, aged 59–86, to participate in either tai chi training or health education classes for 25 weeks. Subjects rated their sleep quality, duration and disturbances before and after training. Data analysis showed that the tai chi group had more improvements in sleep quality and a remission in impairments like daytime drowsiness and lack of concentration.

Researchers from the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology conducted this study. To learn more about the center’s work, go to www.cousinspni.org.

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.