Self-relaxation training can improve sleep quality and cognitive functions in the older: a one-year randomised controlled trial

J Clin Nurs. 2013 May;22(9-10):1270-80. doi: 10.1111/jocn.12096.


Aims and objective: To evaluate the effects of self-relaxation training on sleep quality and cognitive functions in the older.

Background: Ageing causes declines in sleep quality and cognitive functions in older adults, and decreased sleep quality also accelerates declines in cognitive functions. Therefore, it is necessary to find cost-effective interventions to enhance sleep quality in the older, thereby improving their cognitive functions or delaying cognitive decline.

Design: Randomised controlled study.

Methods: The study was conducted between July 2010 and June 2011 at Wangyuehu Community in Changsha, China. Eighty older adults with reduced sleep quality were selected and randomly assigned to experimental (n = 40) or control (n = 40) group. Subjects in the experimental group received self-relaxation training including progressive muscle relaxation and meditation based on sleep hygiene education, while the control group received sleep hygiene education only. Sleep quality and cognitive functions of the two groups were measured prior to training and at the end of the 3rd, 6th and 12th months using four reliable and valid questionnaires.

Results: Repeated measures anova revealed that the self-relaxation training had significant main effect as well as interaction effect with time on sleep quality and cognitive functions. Except for scores of Epworth Sleepiness Scale, Mini-Mental State Examination and number memory, time had significant main effect on scores of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, picture memory, associative memory and understanding memory.

Conclusion: Self-relaxation training can improve sleep quality and cognitive functions in the older.

Relevance to clinical practice: Self-relaxation training is a non-invasive, simple and inexpensive therapeutic method of improving sleep quality and cognitive functions in community-dwelling older people.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Self Care*
  • Sleep*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult