April 1, 2010 -- Maintaining regular daily routines reduces insomnia and improves sleep
quality in older people who live in retirement communities, a new study
Study researcher Ana Zisberg, PhD, RN, of the University of Haifa in
Israel, says performing basic activities such as eating, dressing, and bathing
at the same time every day was found to improve sleep quality.
Performing less frequent activities, such as shopping or visiting a doctor,
on a regular basis improved sleep quality to a lesser extent.
So to get better sleep, she suggests, it’s important to keep a daily
“We 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,” Zisberg
says in a news release. “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 study, conducted between August 2007 and September 2008, involved 96
Russian-speaking older adults living in two retirement communities, where each
apartment was fully equipped as an independent unit, including a kitchenette
that allowed them to set their own meal times.
They ranged in age from 58 to 89, and 72% were women, 82% of whom lived
alone. Seventy-five percent reported being in fair or good health, and some
participants used sleep aid medication.
What participants did on a daily basis was determined by a trained
interviewer who interviewed them three times at two-week intervals.
Eighty-nine of the 96 participants finished the interviews and were included in
the final analysis.
The researchers found that people who followed routines:
Took less time to fall asleep
Had higher sleep efficiency (the amount of time in bed that you are
Had better sleep quality
The researchers say that changes in the body’s biological clock are a
natural part of aging and are likely culprits in the reduced sleep quality of
older people, but developing daily routines may counteract this.
The findings are published in the April issue of the journal