Study Finds Encouraging Results in Improving the Quality of Life and Sleep in People with Memory Problems

Quality of Life and Sleep
Study: Timed Activity to Minimize Sleep Disturbance in People With Cognitive Impairment.

A study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), recently published in Innovation in Aging, found encouraging results in increasing quality of life (QOL) and sleep quality in those with memory problems. In the Healthy Patterns Sleep Program trial, researchers investigate the efficacy of a nonpharmacological strategy.

Nancy Hodgson, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, the Claire M. Fagin Leadership Professor in Nursing and Chair of the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences, led a team of researchers from Penn Nursing, Penn Medicine, Rutgers School of Nursing, and Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions in a study that included 209 pairs of community-dwelling individuals with memory problems and their care partners.

Participants were divided into two groups: the Healthy Patterns Sleep Program, which comprised of one-hour home activity sessions administered over four weeks, and the control group, which received sleep hygiene training as well as teaching on home safety and health promotion. The Healthy Patterns Sleep Program taught care partners about timed daily activities like reminiscing in the morning, exercise in the afternoon, and sensory stimulation in the evening that help reduce daytime sleepiness and increase nocturnal sleep quality.

“The results from this study provide fundamental new knowledge regarding the effects of timing activity participation and can lead to structured, replicable treatment protocols to address sleep disturbances,” Hodgson said. “Overall, the Healthy Patterns program resulted in improved QOL compared to an attention-control group.”

The findings also show that, when compared to a control group, the four-week Healthy Patterns program improved sleep quality for those with memory difficulties who had depressive symptoms or poor sleep quality. According to the study, the Healthy Patterns Intervention may require a larger dose to improve other sleep-wake activity measures.

The study, titled “Timed activity to minimize sleep disturbance in people with cognitive impairment,” is available online. Its significance stems from its confirmation of the efficacy of behavioral interventions in not only improving quality of life and addressing sleep quality issues in this population but also potentially lowering care partner burden and overall care costs for people living at home with memory problems.

More information: Nancy A Hodgson et al, Timed Activity to Minimize Sleep Disturbance in People With Cognitive Impairment, Innovation in Aging (2023). DOI: 10.1093/geroni/igad132

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