Mindfulness training could be more effective than modern techniques for how to sleep better, new research reveals.
The findings could point the way to community-based training for sleep problems — especially for vulnerable seniors.
Learning how to sleep better is particularly important as poor sleep is connected with so many psychological and physical problems.
Around 50% of people over 55 report some sort of sleep problems.
Learning how to sleep better
The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, randomly assigned 49 people to two different groups (Black et al., 2015).
All the people in the study were older individuals who were having moderate problems sleeping.
One group took a six-week ‘sleep hygiene’ course, a relatively modern technique tested in many studies (more on this here: How To Fall Asleep Fast).
The other group received a six-week course in mindfulness training.
In the words of mindfulness expert, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn:
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
The results showed that those in the mindfulness group showed greater improvements in their sleep quality in comparison to those who had taken the sleep hygiene course.
The mindfulness group also had lower levels of depression and they felt less tired.
Dr Adam P. Spira, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, writing about the study in the same journal, said:
“…effective nonpharmacological interventions that are both ‘scalable’ and ‘community accessible’ are needed to improve disturbed sleep and prevent clinical levels of insomnia.
This is imperative given links between insomnia and poor health outcomes, risks of sleep medication use and the limited availability of health care professionals trained in effective nondrug treatments such as behavior therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia.
This context makes the positive results of this RCT [randomized clinical trial] compelling.” (Spira, 2015)
• Read on: Mindfulness Meditation: 8 Quick Exercises That Easily Fit into Your Day
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Sleepy man image from Shutterstock