Here's how social life can help you age better
Washington D.C.: According to a recent study, link between sleep and social participation may be the key to healthy aging.
The University of Missouri research finds that older adults, who have trouble sleeping, could benefit from participating in social activities, in particular attending religious events.
Researcher Jen-Hao Chen said that social connectedness is a key component for health and well-being for older adults. Close connections to, and participation in, social groups provides a sense of belonging and can be essential for healthy aging.
To study the relationship between sleep and social participation for older adults, Chen analyzed two waves of data collected over a five year period from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. He looked at three aspects of social participation; volunteering, attending religious services and being part of organized group activities. He then compared the data to sleep outcomes measured by actigraphy, wearable wrist sleep trackers. Results showed that older adults with greater levels of social participation were getting better sleep.
However, Chen says despite the strong associations between social participation and sleep, social participation does not necessarily lead to better sleep. The strong associations he found could also be due to those already sleeping well may feel well enough to be more active socially. His future research on sleep will continue to use innovative sleep measurements to understand the role various social relationships have on sleep behaviors and outcomes.
Chen added, "To promote sleep health we must consider a comprehensive approach that emphasizes the role of engaging in our communities, as well as getting enough and better sleep."
The study is published in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine.