Study: Music Can Speed Your Way to Sleep – Lullaby Effect

Cara Murez wrote . . . . . . . . .

Music hath charms to soothe you off to slumber, new research suggests.

The study found that calming tunes at bedtime seem to help older people struggling with insomnia.

“We found music therapy was effective for older adults with sleep disturbance,” said study co-author Yen-Chin Chen, an associate professor of nursing at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan.

That’s one of three takeaways from the study.

“Second, listening to sedative music is more effective than listening to rhythmic music,” Chen said. “And listening to music for longer than four weeks is more effective for older adults with sleep disturbance.”

Getting enough sleep can improve a person’s thinking and memory function, as well as energy levels, Chen said.

The findings were published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The study authors noted that adults aged 60 and up appear to sleep better when they listen to music for 30 minutes to an hour at a time, and that they see the greatest benefit by trying tunes for at least a month.

For the review, the researchers looked at five studies with 288 participants.

About half of the participants listened to bedtime music. The rest either had other treatments for their sleep problems or none at all. The research compared different treatments to music, and rhythmic music to calming music.

Listening to calming music, which has a slower tempo and smoother melody, resulted in better sleep, the investigators found. By slowing your heart rate and breathing, and lowering your blood pressure, calming music can lower your stress and anxiety, the researchers theorized.

Older adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, according to the U.S. National Institute on Aging.

About 40% to 70% of older adults have sleep problems, and about 40% experience insomnia, waking often during the night or too early in the morning, the study authors noted in the report.

Sleep problems can contribute to irritability and depression, cause memory problems, and lead to falls and accidents.

Dr. Alayne Markland, an associate professor of medicine in the division of gerontology, geriatrics, and palliative care at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, reviewed the findings.

“I think this is novel work,” she said, adding that more work remains, especially with older adults who have thinking and memory issues. The study did not include people with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or other neurologic conditions.

“This could be a good thing to try — we just don’t have that data,” Markland said. Music could be a very effective sleep aid for some folks, as long as they don’t leave it on all night long, she added.

Sleep is an important driver of metabolism, activity levels, social interaction and mental health for seniors, so getting recommended amounts is important, Markland stressed.

It’s hard to say based on these findings alone who might be better suited to other strategies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) with a trained professional, Markland said. CBTI can target behaviors around falling asleep and staying asleep.

According to a research summary from the American Geriatrics Society, one limitation of the study was that people who listened to music received more attention from researchers, which could be why their sleep improved. Also, all of the study participants had similar sleep problems, so this music strategy many not help folks who are struggling with sleep for other reasons.

Dr. Rafael Pelayo, a sleep specialist at Stanford Sleep Medicine Center in California, noted that most older people who are healthy don’t have any sleep issues at all. Some have poor sleep as a result of other medical conditions, he added.

For example, someone with cataracts may sleep poorly because less light goes into their eyes, which can influence their sleep-wake cycles, he explained. Menopause, depression, sleep apnea, thyroid issues or iron deficiency can also cause sleep issues.

And over time, poor sleep can become a habit, Pelayo pointed out.

People who experience chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder have particular sleep challenges, but there are tools to help with even those sleep issues, according to Pelayo.

“There are many reasons an older person may sleep poorly,” he said. “Having said that, most of the conditions will improve when addressed correctly.”

Pelayo sees the greatest potential for music as a sleep aid in those whose sleep issues are stress-related. The predictability of music can help these folks get into the right state of mind and promote serenity, he said.

“People should go to bed, feeling safe, comfortable and loved. That’s the state of mind you want to be in: safe, comfortable and loved,” Pelayo said. “That’s how our children sleep and that’s what we hope to provide our kids and you need to provide for yourself. If you go to bed thinking ‘How bad will it be tonight?’ that will make you sleep lighter.”

Source: HealthDay

Exercise, Healthy Diet in Midlife May Prevent Serious Health Conditions in Senior Years

Following a routine of regular physical activity combined with a diet including fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods may be key to middle-aged adults achieving optimal cardiometabolic health later in life, according to new research using data from the Framingham Heart Study published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.

Cardiometabolic health risk factors include the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of disorders such as excess fat around the waist, insulin resistance and high blood pressure. Presence of the metabolic syndrome may increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers noted it has been unclear whether adherence to both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and their 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – as opposed to only one of the two – in midlife confers the most favorable cardiometabolic health outcomes later in life. The physical activity guidelines recommend that adults achieve at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, such as walking or swimming. The dietary guidelines, which were updated in January 2021, offer suggestions for healthy eating patterns, nutritional targets and dietary limits.

In an analysis of data from participants of the Framingham Heart Study, which began more than 70 years ago in Framingham, Massachusetts, investigators examined data from 2,379 adults ages 18 and older and their adherence to the two guidelines. They observed that meeting a combination of the two recommendations during midlife was associated with lower odds of metabolic syndrome and developing serious health conditions as participants aged in their senior years in 2016-2019 examinations.

“Health care professionals could use these findings to further promote and emphasize to their patients the benefits of a healthy diet and a regular exercise schedule to avoid the development of numerous chronic health conditions in the present and in later life,” said corresponding author Vanessa Xanthakis, Ph.D., FAHA, assistant professor of medicine and biostatistics in the Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology at Boston University School of Medicine in Boston. “The earlier people make these lifestyle changes, the more likely they will be to lower their risk of cardiovascular-associated diseases later in life.”

Study participants were selected from the third generation of the Framingham Heart Study. Participants (average age 47, 54% women) were examined between 2008 and 2011. Researchers evaluated physical activity using a specialized device known as an omnidirectional accelerometer. The device, which tracks sedentary and physical activity, was worn on the participant’s hip for eight days. Researchers also collected dietary information from food frequency questionnaires to measure the kinds and levels of food and nutrients consumed.

In this investigation, researchers observed that among all participants, 28% met recommendations of both the physical activity and dietary guidelines, while 47% achieved the recommendations in only one of the guidelines. Researchers also observed that:

  • participants who followed the physical activity recommendations alone had 51% lower odds of metabolic syndrome;
  • participants who adhered to the dietary guidelines alone had 33% lower odds; and
  • participants who followed both guidelines had 65% lower odds of developing metabolic syndrome.

“It is noteworthy that we observed a dose-response association of adherence to diet and physical activity guidelines with risk of cardiometabolic disease later in life,” Xanthakis said. “Participants who met the physical activity guidelines had progressively lower risk of cardiometabolic disease as they increased adherence to the dietary guidelines.”

All study participants were white adults, therefore, the findings cannot be generalized to people in other racial or ethnic groups. Additional studies with a multiethnic participant sample are needed, researchers said.

Source: American Heart Association

Men Worldwide Have Shorter Life Spans Than Women

Why are men over 50 around the world 60% more likely than women to die early?

Two big reasons are higher rates of smoking and heart disease, according to a large new study.

The findings are based on an analysis of data from more than 179,000 people in 28 countries. Fifty-five percent were women.

Researchers examined how socioeconomic (education, wealth), lifestyle (smoking, alcohol consumption), health (heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and depression) and social (having a spouse, living alone) factors might contribute to the higher risk of premature death in men.

The findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Lead researcher Yu-Tzu Wu, of King’s College London, and co-authors said many studies have examined the impact of social, behavioral and biological factors on male-female differences in death rates, but few have investigated potential international variations.

“Different cultural traditions, historical contexts, and economic and societal development may influence gender experiences in different countries, and thus variably affect the health status of men and women,” Wu and colleagues said in a journal news release.

They said those differences can lead to different life experiences for men and women and variation in the death gap across countries.

Their findings are consistent with other research about life expectancy and death rates.

The diversity of sex differences in death rates across countries may indicate the “substantial impact” of gender — socially constructed roles of men, women and gender-diverse people — “in addition to biological sex, and the crucial contributions of smoking may also vary across different populations,” the authors wrote.

Public health policies should account for sex- and gender-based differences and how social and cultural factors affect health, the researchers suggested.

Source: HealthDay

Some Folks Do Age Slower Than Others

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

People really do vary in how fast they age, and the divergence starts in young adulthood, a new study suggests.

The researchers found that by the tender age of 45, people with a faster pace of “biological aging” were more likely to feel, function and look far older than they actually were. And that relative sprint toward old age began in their 20s.

The findings, the study authors said, suggest we need to take a different view of aging.

“Aging is a lifelong process. It doesn’t suddenly begin at the age of 60,” said lead investigator Maxwell Elliott, a doctoral student at Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Anyone who has ever known a spry, sharp-as-a-tack 80-year-old — or a 50-year-old burdened with health problems and disabilities — knows that chronological age does not tell the whole story.

The concept of biological aging — or the speed at which body systems decline over time — acknowledges that.

But it’s not clear exactly when people begin to diverge in their rate of biological aging, Elliott said.

The new findings suggest that split happens fairly early in life.

For the study, Elliott and his colleagues used data on more than 1,000 New Zealanders who have been followed since birth, in the 1970s, to age 45. The pace of their biological aging was tracked starting at age 26, based on measures like body fat, heart fitness, lung capacity, markers of inflammation in the blood, and even cavities.

It turned out that, indeed, people varied widely in biological aging: The slowest ager gained only 0.4 “biological years” for each chronological year in age; in contrast, the fastest-aging participant gained nearly 2.5 biological years for every chronological year.

And by age 45, rapid biological agers were already showing some health indicators normally associated with old age. Compared with their peers, they moved more slowly, had weaker grip strength, and more problems with balance, vision and hearing.

Differences in mental sharpness were clear, too, the researchers found.

On average, rapid agers scored lower on tests of memory performance, and they generally reported more forgetfulness in daily life. Meanwhile, MRI scans showed they typically had more signs of brain-tissue thinning.

The findings were published online in the journal Nature Aging.

Elliott said he was surprised by the extent of the aging differences at the relatively young age of 45.

And, he said, they were significant enough for people to notice them in daily life. Rapid agers typically said they felt older than they were, for example, and doubted they would live to see the age of 75.

If that weren’t enough, they also looked older than their age, based on independent raters who viewed study participants’ facial images.

Dr. Sofiya Milman is director of human longevity studies at Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Institute for Aging Research, in New York City.

Like Elliott, she noted that aging does not “magically start at age 60.”

“Aging is a continuum,” said Milman, who reviewed the findings. “And it probably starts even earlier than we’ve recognized.”

As for what determines a person’s rate of biological aging, Milman said genes play a role. There are certain “longevity genes” that can help shield people from environmental stressors, to a degree.

But aging is not set in stone. Both Milman and Elliott said environment matters, from lifestyle choices to exposures to chronic stress and poverty.

It’s clear that regular exercise, a healthy diet and not smoking can reduce the risks of various diseases. And those are things people can do now, Milman said.

In the future, though, she said researchers also want to translate what they’re learning about the aging process into medications that can be given to the right people at the right time.

For some people, Milman said, a healthy lifestyle, on its own, is not enough.

Both researchers stressed that people who feel “old” in their 40s need not despair: It’s never too late to get a check-up, rein in your blood pressure, or start exercising and eating better.

“Midlife is a great time to address these things,” Elliott said. “We can’t change the past, but there’s still a lot of time to intervene.”

The broader point, he said, is that “we need to stop putting so much emphasis on chronological age.”

Intervening earlier to address rapid biological aging could save lives, and improve quality of life, Elliott said.

Source: HealthDay

Older Women Who Ate More Plant Protein Had Lower Risk of Premature, Dementia-related Death

Postmenopausal women who ate high levels of plant protein had lower risks of premature death, cardiovascular disease and dementia-related death compared with women who ate less plant proteins, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.

Previous research has shown an association between diets high in red meat and cardiovascular disease risk, yet the data is sparse and inconclusive about specific types of proteins, the study authors say.

In this study, researchers analyzed data from more than 100,000 postmenopausal women (ages 50 to 79) who participated in the national Women’s Health Initiative study between 1993 and 1998; they were followed through February 2017. At the time they enrolled in the study, participants completed questionnaires about their diet detailing how often they ate eggs, dairy, poultry, red meat, fish/shellfish and plant proteins such as tofu, nuts, beans and peas. During the study period, a total of 25,976 deaths occurred (6,993 deaths from cardiovascular disease; 7,516 deaths from cancer; and 2,734 deaths from dementia).

Researchers noted the levels and types of protein women reported consuming, divided them into groups to compare who ate the least and who ate the most of each protein. The median percent intake of total energy from animal protein in this population was 7.5% in the lowest quintile and 16.0% in the highest quintile. The median percent intake of total energy from plant protein in this population was 3.5% in the lowest quintile and 6.8% in the highest quintile.

Among the key findings:

  • Compared to postmenopausal women who had the least amount of plant protein intake, those with the highest amount of plant protein intake had a 9% lower risk of death from all causes, a 12% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of dementia-related death.
  • Higher consumption of processed red meat was associated with a 20% higher risk of dying from dementia.
  • Higher consumption of unprocessed meat, eggs and dairy products was associated with a 12%, 24% and 11% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, respectively.
  • Higher consumption of eggs was associated with a 10% higher risk of death due to cancer.
  • However, higher consumption of eggs was associated with a 14% lower risk of dying from dementia, while higher poultry consumption was associated with a 15% lower risk.

“It is unclear in our study why eggs were associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular and cancer death,” said lead study author Wei Bao, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. “It might be related to the way people cook and eat eggs. Eggs can be boiled, scrambled, poached, baked, basted, fried, shirred, coddled or pickled or in combinations with other foods. In the United States, people usually eat eggs in the form of fried eggs and often with other foods such as bacon. Although we have carefully accounted for many potential confounding factors in the analysis, it is still difficult to completely tease out whether eggs, other foods usually consumed with eggs, or even non-dietary factors related to egg consumption, may lead to the increased risk of cardiovascular and cancer death.”

Researchers noted that substitution of total red meat, eggs or dairy products with nuts was associated with a 12% to 47% lower risk of death from all causes depending on the type of protein replaced with nuts.

“It is important to note that dietary proteins are not consumed in isolation, so the interpretation of these findings could be challenging and should be based on consideration of the overall diet including different cooking methods,” said Yangbo Sun, M.D., Ph.D., co-author of the study, a postdoctoral research scholar at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and currently an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

The analysis also revealed that women who ate the highest amount of animal protein such as meat and dairy were more likely to be white and have a higher education and income, and they were more likely to be past smokers, drink more alcohol and be less physically active. Moreover, these women were more likely to have Type 2 diabetes at the start of the study, a family history of heart attacks and a higher body mass index — all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“Our findings support the need to consider dietary protein sources in future dietary guidelines,” said Bao. “Current dietary guidelines mainly focus on the total amount of protein, and our findings show that there may be different health influences associated with different types of protein foods.”

2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, jointly published by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS), recommend eating a variety of protein foods: low-fat meat, low-fat poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds and soy products including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week.

The AHA’s 2020 Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk advisory notes that given the relatively high content of cholesterol in egg yolks, it remains advisable to limit intake. Healthy individuals can include up to one whole egg or the equivalent daily.

The study had several limitations including that it was observational, based on self-reported data at the beginning of the study and lacked data on how the proteins were cooked. In addition, the findings may not apply to younger women or men.

Source: American Heart Association