For the more than half of all Americans over age 59 who complain about not being able to fall asleep easily, the answer may rest with a 2,000 year old Chinese series of movements.
Researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found that the 19 moves and one pose found in tai chi chih -- the Western version of the ancient philosophy that combines movements and poses to relieve stress and find spiritual fulfillment -- actually allowed study subjects to improve their sleep patterns.
The 112 older adults in the study who ranged in age from 59 to 86 were divided into two groups, one taking tai chi chih instruction and the other group taking classes that included stress management, diet and advice on improving sleep patterns.
According to a UCLA news release, 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."
"It's [tai chi chih] a form of exercise virtually every elderly person can do, and this study provides more across-the-board evidence of its health benefits," said lead study author 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, in the news release.
The study is available in the online edition of the journal Sleep.