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Health Spotlight: Regular routines and healthy seniors

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Professor Stephen Smagula sat down with News 8’s Lena Pringle to discuss how keeping a regular sleep routine in your older years may lead to better mental health.

Smagula and his colleagues analyzed data from 1,800 adults over 65 for a study. The adults wore devices to record their movement. They found 30% of adults had no set pattern to their sleep and activity routines.

“If your pattern was disrupted, you were more than twice as likely to have significant depression symptoms,” said Smagula.

Another 32% got up at the same time, but only had mild activity for 13 hours during the day. The group had symptom of depression and scored lower on cognition. Smagula and his colleagues found 38% to have robust pattern, which means 15 hours of activity each day.

The adults with the regular sleep and activity patterns were happier and had better cognitive functioning, suggesting routine matters.

Smagula suggests that senior get up at the same time everyday, no matter how tired they are. He says that most people think about intensity when they think of activity, but the research suggests that the duration of activity matters more, meaning senior adults should find ways to stay engaged throughout the day.