The effectiveness of acupuncture on the sleep quality of elderly with dementia: a within-subjects trial
Timothy Kwok,1,2 Ping Chung Leung,3 Yun Kwok Wing,4 Isaac Ip,2 Bel Wong,2 Daniel Wai Hung Ho,2 Wai Ming Wong,3 Florence Ho2
1Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong; 2Jockey Club Centre for Positive Ageing, Hong Kong; 3Institute of Chinese Medicine, 4Department of Psychiatry, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Purpose: Elderly with dementia are often afflicted with sleep problems. Recent studies have suggested that acupuncture may be a feasible alternative to traditional sleep medicine for treating sleep disturbance. This study investigated the effectiveness of acupuncture on sleep quality of elderly with dementia.
Patients and methods: Nineteen elders with dementia were followed through a control period and an acupuncture treatment period, each lasting 6 weeks. Outcome measures were subjects' sleep quality and cognitive function. Sleep parameters were recorded by wrist actigraphy. Cognitive function was assessed by the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale – Cognitive (ADAS-Cog). Pretests and posttests were conducted immediately before and after the control and treatment periods. Changes in the outcome measures between control and treatment periods were compared.
Results: Wilcoxon signed rank tests revealed that the subjects gained significantly more resting time and total sleep time in the treatment period than in the control period (P < 0.05). A nonsignificant trend for improvement in sleep efficiency was observed. Improvement in cognitive function was not statistically significant. A total of 86% of the subjects completed the treatment regime.
Conclusion: Results reveal that acupuncture was effective in improving some domains of sleep quality of elderly with dementia, and the subjects showed acceptance towards the intervention. Strengths and limitations of the present study as well as suggestions for further studies were considered.
Keywords: acupuncture, sleep disturbance, patients with dementia
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