Psychological techniques used to combat insomnia in older people can also reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue, a new analysis has shown.
The analysis, led by Goldsmiths, University of London, found most evidence for mindfulness-based interventions improving psychological wellbeing in people aged over 55 who experience insomnia symptoms. Out of other approaches not involving medication, moderate exercise and behavioural sleep restriction techniques were also shown to reduce depression symptoms in older insomnia sufferers.
Rotem Perach, study author and Teaching Fellow in Psychology at Goldsmiths said: “Our evidence suggests that pill-free approaches to treating insomnia can make older people not only sleep better but also feel less depressed, anxious, or tired.
“We also identified which techniques show the most promise with practising mindfulness meditations or performing moderate physical exercise both able to reduce depression symptoms in older insomnia sufferers. What is encouraging is that such techniques may offer dual benefits to older persons by improving both types of symptoms.”
The team behind the study believes that randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm the effectiveness of approaches such as mindfulness or moderate exercise in treating older persons with comorbid insomnia and clinical and subclinical depression.
The researchers involved in the report came from the University of Kent and University of Sussex in the UK and the University of Murcia and IMIB-Arrixaca in Spain. This research, supported by The Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust, was led by Alice Gregory, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths and author of the book ‘Nodding Off: The science of sleep from cradle to grave’.
A report of the research, entitled ‘The Psychological Wellbeing Outcomes of Nonpharmacological Interventions for Older Persons with Insomnia Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis’, is published in Sleep Medicine Reviews.