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New Jersey Senior Health

Did you know that about half of older adults say they have trouble sleeping at least a few nights each week? Despite this “sleepless epidemic,” few treatments focus on improving sleep quality in people with moderate sleep complaints.

One alternative approach that shows some promise for treating people with sleep problems is tai chi. This is an ancient art of performing slow, gentle movements. It combines relaxation and exercise – both shown to contribute to a better night’s rest.

Why seek alternatives?
As many as four out of five people with sleep problems never seek help. Among the remaining one out of five who do seek treatment, most turn to sedative medications. But these medications can have harmful side effects, including:

  • Daytime confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Falls and fractures
  • Adverse interactions with other medications

For these reasons, many people avoid sleep medications, and go untreated. This leaves them at risk of developing more serious problems, including chronic insomnia. And insomnia can worsen conditions like depression, pain and anxiety.

About tai chi
Tai chi is also known as “moving meditation.” It combines deep breathing, relaxation and slow structured movements. Tai chi has been practiced widely in China for hundreds of years as a form of meditation, exercise and self-defense.

The practice of tai chi is inexpensive and has no side effects. And because it combines movement and relaxation, it is especially attractive to researchers investigating sleep problems. It’s also a win-win for older adults who may have age-related limitations with some standard forms of exercise.

Getting started
Tai chi or TCC classes are offered at many health clubs and community recreation programs. There are also many books, DVDs and videotapes that can get you started with tai chi right in your own home. Always check with your doctor before you start a new physical activity.

Posted by: Frank Esposito, VP Expert Home Care.  New Jersey’s Expert Home Care provides professional, dependable home health care and companion care for NJ elderly, helping them with their daily living activities since 1984. Please call us toll free at 800-848-2336 when you have home care related questions or need assistance for a loved one. Get a Free Home Care Assessment (a $375 value!) when you mention this post.

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