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New program will explore how to improve sleep among older adults

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Researchers at Michigan State University will use a $167,000 grant to examine ways to improve sleep among older adults.

Michigan ranks 47th in the nation for the number of residents who meet the recommended seven hours of sleep every night.

Robin Tucker is a researcher on the project.

“And we know that insufficient sleep is linked to just about every chronic disease condition you can think of,” she said.

Poor sleep has been associated with higher risk of cardiovascular and pulmonary issues, depression, diabetes, and even cancer. 

Tucker said a lack of sleep is especially detrimental for older adults.

“So it made sense for us to target them and try and help them get better sleep and hopefully better health outcomes.”

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control people who live in the Upper Peninsula have a particularly hard time getting enough sleep, although it's not clear why.

Tucker said her research will test best practices for improving sleep at nursing homes and assisted living centers in the Upper Peninsula.

“The UP also tends to be in terms of the state of Michigan a little bit harder hit in terms of the people not getting enough sleep. So it makes sense to us from a logistic and public health point of view to start there.”

Tucker said the goal of the project is to create a set of best practices and to advise care facilities on how to help older adults get enough sleep.

Some of the methods Tucker said the research will test include things as simple as providing ear plugs and eye masks to residents of nursing homes or assisted living centers.