Sunday, July 11, 2010

Elderly's Restless Nights Helped By Ancient Martial Art

I recently found an online article that described how tai chi chih has been shown to help with sleeping difficulties. Over half of older adults report occasional or frequent problems sleeping. See http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/112302.php for the full article.

People with sleep difficulties often turn to medication, which leads to side effects or other health problems. A study, published in the journal Sleep, describes how tai chi chih has been tested and shown to help improve sleep. The lead study author was Dr. Michael Irwin, the Norman Cousins Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology.

Exercise has been shown to improve sleep. However, older adults may not be able or willing to participate in active exercise programs. Therefore, tai chi chih was selected for a test study. In the study, two groups were compared. One group practiced 20 simple tai chi chih moves. The other group received classes on stress management, diet, and sleep habits.

The study found that the tai chi chih group showed improved sleep quality and a remission of clinical impairments, such as drowsiness during the day and inability to concentrate, compared with those receiving health education. The tai chi chih participants showed improvements in their own self-rating of sleep quality, sleep duration and sleep disturbance.

Dr. Irwin led a previous study that showed that tai chi chih strengthened the immune system of elderly people suffering from shingles. Other studies done at UCLA have shown improvement in control of headaches and that tai chi chih may help in reducing blood pressure.

© 2010 Eric Borreson