Will exercise help you to sleep better?
If you’re over age 60 and don’t sleep well at night, Johns Hopkins University has a study for you.
Researchers at Hopkins’ Center for Innovative Care in Aging suspect that light exercise may improve sleep duration and cognitive performance.
“Research shows promising evidence for exercise or increased daytime physical activity as an effective way to promote sleep and cognitive functions (such as memory and reaction speed) in older adults,” Junxin Li, the study’s principal investigator, said in an email.
“We hope that by designing an exercise program that fits their preference and capacity, we will help them achieve active and healthy aging, including enhanced sleep and cognitive function.”
Designed for sedentary older adults in the Baltimore area, the two-arm, randomized study lasts six months.
Once enrolled, participants will visit the Wald Community Nursing Center, 901 N. Broadway, to take some tests, fill out surveys, play “brain games” to establish a baseline of their cognitive and physical functions, and give an optional blood sample. Free door-to-door transportation to and from the clinic will be provided via Lyft or Uber.
Some may get a FitBit
Some participants will go home with a new gadget: a wristwatch-like electronic activity monitor. These devices, such as the FitBit, can measure sleep duration and inactivity — and remind people to get up and get moving.
While half of the participants don’t have to do anything more than make one final visit to Hopkins, the others will be asked to increase their physical activity at home — with help from the research team.
The exercises are “geared toward people 60 to 85 years old, and we do modify the program to their personal needs,” said research coordinator Lena Sciarratta.
“We start small and gradually increase the exercise program over the six-month period. [The exercises] are low impact. They’re not really going to be working up a sweat.”
Participants will be encouraged to do low-impact exercise sessions three or four times a week. This might include chair-supported squats, arm raises, light weightlifting or stretching resistance bands.
To help with the exercises, a personal trainer will make three home visits. Researchers will be available to visit, too, in case participants need help with their wrist monitors. “With this age group, technology isn’t always their friend,” Sciarratta said.
Each time participants meet their weekly activity goals, they’ll get a $5 reward (up to $120).
After the study ends, participants will re-take the same tests so researchers can compare results. They’ll also receive a “sleep report” comparing the quality and quantity of their sleep over six months.
The study provides $50 to $100 compensation in addition to the $5 bonuses. Baltimore area residents only. To find out more or to see if you qualify for the study, call (410) 929-5259.