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VOLUME 31, ISSUE 07


Improving Sleep Quality in Older Adults with Moderate Sleep Complaints: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Tai Chi Chih

Michael R. Irwin, MD; Richard Olmstead, PhD; Sarosh J. Motivala, PhD

University of California, Los Angeles — Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, Los Angeles, California



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Study Objectives:

To determine the efficacy of a novel behavioral intervention, Tai Chi Chih, to promote sleep quality in older adults with moderate sleep complaints.

Design:

Randomized controlled trial with 16 weeks of teaching followed by practice and assessment 9 weeks later. The main outcome measure was sleep quality, as assessed by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

Setting:

General community at 2 sites in the US between 2001 and 2005.

Participants:

Volunteer sample of 112 healthy older adults, aged 59 to 86 years.

Intervention:

Random allocation to Tai Chi Chih or health education for 25 weeks.

Results:

Among adults with moderate sleep complaints, as defined by PSQI global score of 5 or greater, subjects in the Tai Chi Chih condition were more likely to achieve a treatment response, as defined by PSQI less than 5, compared to those in health education (P < 0.05). Subjects in the Tai Chi Chih condition with poor sleep quality also showed significant improvements in PSQI global score (P < 0.001) as well as in the sleep parameters of rated sleep quality (P < 0.05), habitual sleep efficiency (P < 0.05), sleep duration (P < 0.01), and sleep disturbance (P < 0.01).

Conclusions:

Tai Chi Chih can be considered a useful nonpharmacologic approach to improve sleep quality in older adults with moderate complaints and, thereby, has the potential to ameliorate sleep complaints possibly before syndromal insomnia develops.

Clinical Trials Registration:

ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00118885
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