New York, Jan 6, 2017: An hour-long nap after lunch may help older adults to preserve their memories, improve their ability to think clearly as well as to make decisions, a study has found.
Sleep plays a key role in helping older adults maintain their healthy mental function, necessary for people as they age, the researchers said.
In the study, led by Junxin Li from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, the team examined nearly 3,000 Chinese adults aged 65 and older to learn whether taking an afternoon nap had any effect on their mental health.
The researchers found that nearly 60 per cent of the people took an afternoon nap after lunch.
Their nap time was between about 30 minutes to more than 90 minutes, with most people taking naps lasting about 63 minutes.
The results showed that people who took an hour-long nap after lunch had better health condition compared to people who did not take a nap — neither shorter nor longer.
Conversely, those who took no naps at all had four-to-six times more decrease in their mental ability.
In addition, people who did not take a nap at all, and those who took shorter or longer naps, experienced about the same decline in their mental abilities that a five-year increase in age would be expected to cause, Li stated.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. (IANS)
Meditation worked as well as traditional therapy for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder in a small experiment sponsored by the Department of Defense.
One method preferred by the Department of Veterans Affairs is exposure therapy, but it doesn’t work for everyone and many can’t handle what it requires: purposely recalling traumatic events and confronting emotions.
Meditation could be a better choice for some, the researchers said.
Exposure therapy unpopular
The experiment tested meditation against exposure therapy, which involves working with a therapist and gradually letting go of fears triggered by painful memories.
Many vets won’t try exposure therapy or drop out because it’s too difficult, said Thomas Rutledge, the study’s senior author and a Veterans Affairs psychologist in San Diego.
Evidence for meditation “allows us to put more options on the table” with confidence they work, Rutledge said.
The study was published Thursday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.
Follow-up study needed
About 400,000 veterans had a PTSD diagnosis in 2013, according to the VA health system. The VA already is using meditation, yoga and similar approaches to supplement traditional therapy with PTSD, said Paula Schnurr, executive director of the VA’s National Center for PTSD.
While the three-month study adds to evidence supporting these lifestyle practices, Schnurr said, more research is needed to learn how long meditation’s benefits last.
“There’s no follow-up in this study,” Schnurr noted, and one therapist did 80 percent of the exposure therapy so the findings hinge largely on one therapist’s skills.
Researchers measured symptoms in about 200 San Diego area veterans randomly assigned to one of three groups. Some learned to meditate. Others got exposure therapy. The third group attended classes where they learned about nutrition and exercise.
All sessions were once a week for 90 minutes.
After three months, 61 percent of the meditation group improved on a standard PTSD assessment, compared to 42 percent of those who got exposure therapy and 32 percent of those who went to classes. When researchers accounted for other factors, meditation was better than the classes and equally effective as exposure therapy.
The researchers defined success as at least a 10-point improvement in scores on a standard symptoms test, given to participants by people who did not know which kind of treatment they’d received. The test measures symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares and insomnia.
PTSD also can be treated with medications or other types of talk therapy. Many of the participants were taking prescribed medicine for PTSD.
Most of the vets were men with combat-related trauma, so it’s not clear whether meditation would be equally effective in women or with other types of trauma.
More interest, styles
There’s growing interest in meditation in the United States. A government survey last year found 14 percent of adults said they had recently meditated, up from 4 percent from a similar survey five years earlier.
There are many styles of meditation. The type taught to vets in the study was transcendental meditation, or TM, which involves thinking of a mantra or sound to settle the mind.
TM was developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a guru to the Beatles in the late 1960s. Some of the study authors are affiliated with a university in Fairfield, Iowa, founded by Maharishi. Their role was to oversee the meditation training.