A natural sleeping routine is very important to have a healthy life. A study published on April 1 in the journal Sleep found that the maintenance of daily routines is associated with a reduced rate of insomnia and improved sleep quality in the elderly as well as other age groups. If the authors of the study recommend to preserve the routine in the elderly as a factor of quality of sleep, they nevertheless pose the question for future longitudinal studies, “whether the regularity of life constitutes a cause or a consequence of quality sleep or not“. The results of this analysis indicate that increased stability in daily routine is linked to a shorter sleep latency and improved sleep quality. In the concept of routine, researchers include regularity in basic daily activities such as bathing; dressing and eating are more important than other regular activities such as shopping, using public transport and or go to medical appointments.
Lead author Dr. Anna Zisberg, assistant professor at the University of Haifa Mount Carmel (Israel), indicated that these results underscore the importance of developing and maintaining a regular life as a tool for promoting the quality of sleep. They have shown that there is a relationship between routine activity patterns and sleep quality.
The study was conducted in the northern part of Israel between August 2007 and September 2008, and 62% of the participants were female, living in two homes, apartments equipped with independent functional level. 82% of people included in the study were living alone and 75% reported good health. 5% of the elderly were using sleeping pills, at least once a week, 7% once or twice per week and 23% three times or more per week. The test routine was evaluated by a trained interviewer three times at two-week intervals using a modified version of the scale routine SOAR. 89 of the 96 participants were included in the final analyzes. Sleep quality was assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).
It was established that more consistency leads to better sleep quality. The average time of sleep was found to be six hours with 77.9% people and 37.53 minutes of sleep latency was there. More regularity of life reflected the higher quality of sleep also. A lower quality of sleep was associated with a lower regularity of life and a higher rate of co-morbidities. The authors noted that changes in the circadian system are considered a natural part of aging and are implicated as an underlying factor of reduced sleep quality in the elderly. The rhythms of routine life can serve as a protective factor in the quality of sleep. However, further research is needed to examine the link routine / sleep quality on larger populations of different cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. Future longitudinal studies will be able assess whether the regularity of life is a cause or a consequence of quality sleep. The most natural sleeping routine will involve getting to bed early and waking up early.