Elderlys restless nights helped by ancient martial art

More than half of all older adults complain about having difficulties sleeping. Most don't bother seeking treatment. Those who do usually turn either to medications, which can lead to other health problems, or behavior therapies, which are costly and often not available close to home.

Now, UCLA researchers report that practicing tai chi chih, the Westernized version of a 2,000-year-old Chinese martial art, promotes sleep quality in older adults with moderate sleep complaints. The study, which will be published in the journal Sleep, is currently available in the journal's online edition.

The research piggybacked on a study published in April 2007 by Irwin that showed tai chi chih boosted the immune system of elderly people suffering from shingles (www.newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/Practicing-Tai-Chi-Boosts-Immune-7806.aspx).Other studies done at UCLA have shown that tai chi chih can help people who suffer from tension headaches and have suggested that it may aid in decreasing high blood pressure.