More than half of adults over the age of 65 have trouble sleeping, characterized by both lighter sleep and frequent awakenings during the night. A decline in cognitive function is common with advanced age, and research has shown that disturbed sleep in younger adults and in the elderly causes daytime sleepiness and negatively affects cognitive performance.
Now, a study by sleep researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine suggests that even short-term exposure to either morning or evening social and physical activity improves cognitive performance and subjective sleep quality in the elderly.
The study, by Susan Benloucif, Phyllis Zee, M.D., and colleagues is described in an article in the Dec. 15 issue of the journal Sleep. Benloucif is associate professor and Zee is professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurological Sciences at Feinberg. "Many of the health changes associated with aging, including the decline in sleep and cognitive abilities, can be attributed to sedentary lifestyles and social disengagement among older individuals," Benloucif said. "Evidence suggests that maintenance of social engagement and avoidance of social isolation are important factors in maintaining cognitive vitality in old age," Benloucif said.
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