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Sleep. 2004 Dec 15;27(8):1542-51.

Morning or evening activity improves neuropsychological performance and subjective sleep quality in older adults.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.



Sleep disturbances and decline in neuropsychological performance are common in older adults. Reduced social and physical activity is likely a contributing factor for these age-related changes in sleep and cognition. We previously demonstrated that a program of structured social and physical activity, with 2 daily activity sessions, 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening for a relatively short period of 2 weeks, improved sleep and neuropsychological performance in community-dwelling older adults. The goals of this pilot study were to determine whether a single daily morning or evening activity session for 2 weeks would also improve sleep and neuropsychological function and whether these effects were dependent on the timing of the activity sessions.


We compared the effect of morning or evening structured activity sessions in a repeated-measures crossover design. Subjective mood, neuropsychological performance tasks, and subjective and objective measures of sleep were assessed at baseline and after the intervention.


All procedures took place in the participant's residence.


Twelve older men and women (74.6 +/- 5.5 years of age).


Subjects participated in 14 days of structured activity sessions in the morning (9:00-10:30 am) or evening (7:00-8:30 pm). Sessions consisted of stretching, low-impact aerobics, and game playing.


Exposure to either morning or evening activity significantly improved performance on a neuropsychological test battery. Morning activity sessions increased throughput on 4 of 8 performance tasks, while evening activity sessions improved throughput on 7 of the 8 performance tasks. Subjective sleep-quality ratings, measured by the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index, improved following activity sessions in either the morning or the evening. Objective measures of sleep did not improve when measured by actigraphy or polysomnography.


These results suggest that short-term exposure to either morning or evening social and physical activity improves objective measures of neuropsychological performance and subjective sleep quality in the elderly. Increasing exposure to social and physical activity may be a useful intervention to improve sleep quality and daytime function in older adults.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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