According to a study conducted by researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, elderly people who practice tai chi sleep better than those who do not.
Researchers asked 112 healthy adults between the ages of 59 and 86 to fill out a questionnaire based on a Sleep Quality Index, which rates the duration and quality of sleep, over the course of one month. Participants were then assigned either to practice 20 simple tai chi moves, or to take part in health education classes to learn healthier sleep, diet and stress management habits. After 25 weeks, the participants took the sleep survey again:
People in the tai chi group showed significant improvement on measures of sleep quality, duration and disturbances in comparison with the control group.
Poor sleeping constitutes one of the most common difficulties facing older adults. Over 58% of people aged 59 or older have sleeping difficulty on at least a few nights per week. However, 85% of these cases, the problem goes untreated. Those who do receive treatment are usually given sedative drugs, which can have dangerous side effects.
Tai chi, in contrast, improves health in general. And unlike other forms of exercise with similar health benefits, tai chi is composed of gentle, flowing movements that are not difficult or dangerous for the elderly. It's a form of exercise virtually every elderly person can do, and this study provides more across-the-board evidence of its health benefits. It's also a great bonding exercise for younger adults to practice with their seniors.