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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Apr;59(4):603-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03324.x. Epub 2011 Mar 15.

Sleep optimizes motor skill in older adults.

Author information

1
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. mtucker1@bidmc.harvard.edu

Erratum in

  • J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Jun;59(6):1161.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine whether sleep benefits motor memory in healthy elderly adults and, if so, whether the observed sleep-related benefits are comparable with those observed in healthy young adults.

DESIGN:

Repeated-measures cross-over design.

SETTING:

Boston, Massachusetts (general community) and Harvard University.

PARTICIPANTS:

Sixteen healthy older and 15 healthy young participants.

MEASUREMENTS:

Motor sequence task (MST) performance was assessed at training and at the beginning and end of the retest session; polysomnographic sleep studies were recorded for the elderly participants.

RESULTS:

After 12 hours of daytime wakefulness, elderly participants showed a dramatic decline in MST performance on the first three retest trials, and only a nonsignificant improvement by the end of retest (the last 3 retest trials). In contrast, when the same participants trained in the morning but were retested 24 hours after training, after a day of wake plus a night of sleep, they maintained their performance at the beginning of retest and demonstrated a highly significant 17.4% improvement by the end of the retest session, essentially identical to the 17.3% improvement seen in young participants. These strikingly similar improvements occurred despite the presence of other age-related differences, including overall slower motor speed, a lag in the appearance of sleep-dependent improvement, and an absence of correlations between overnight improvement and sleep architecture or sleep spindle density in the elderly participants.

CONCLUSION:

These findings provide compelling evidence that sleep optimizes motor skill performance across the adult life span.

PMID:
21410442
PMCID:
PMC4564057
DOI:
10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03324.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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