New research coming out of Israel finds that the maintenance of daily routines was associated with a reduced rate of insomnia and improved quality of sleep in older adults living in a retirement community.

Results of regression analyses indicate that increased stability in daily routine predicted a shorter time to fall asleep, higher sleep efficiency, and improved sleep quality. Stability in basic activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating was more strongly associated with sleep quality than stability of instrumental activities such as shopping, public transportation use, and medical appointments, according to the results, published in the journal Sleep.

According to the authors, routine lifestyle rhythms may be characterized by stability in the timing, frequency, and duration of daily activities such as watching TV or reading a book. It is also possible to identify weekly patterns of regularity in activities such as cleaning, exercise, and social engagements.

Lead author Anna Zisberg, RN, MA, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Haifa in Mt Carmel, Israel, said that the findings highlight the importance of developing lifestyle regularity as a means for maintaining good sleep quality.

"We predicted that there would be a relationship between routine activity patterns and sleep quality, since theoretically sleep patterns and other everyday life activities are related and potentially synchronized," said Zisberg. "However, given the widely accepted view that light is the major synchronizer of the human sleep-wake cycle, we were surprised that our findings were so robust."