Researchers have found that a simple meditation or music-listening program may alter certain biomarkers of cellular ageing and Alzheimer’s disease in older adults who are experiencing memory loss.
The study findings also suggest these changes may be directly related to improvements in memory and cognition, sleep, mood and quality of life.
Sixty older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD), a condition that may represent a preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, participated in West Virginia University School of Public Health’s randomised, clinical trial.
While SCD has been linked to increased risk for dementia and associated with certain neuropathological changes implicated in Alzheimer’s disease development, including elevated brain levels of beta amyloid, this preclinical period may also provide a critical window for therapeutic intervention.
In the trial, each participant was randomly assigned to either a beginner meditation or music-listening program and asked to practise 12 minutes per day for 12 weeks. At baseline and three months, blood samples were collected. Two markers of cellular ageing were measured as well as blood levels of specific beta-amyloid peptides commonly linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, memory and cognitive function, stress, sleep, mood and quality of life were measured. All participants were followed for a total of six months.
Following completion of the three-month intervention period, the meditation group showed significantly greater increases in a key beta amyloid peptide than did the music group.
Rising beta amyloid levels were correlated with improvements in memory and cognitive function, as well as with those in mood, sleep and quality of life at both three and six months; these positive associations were substantially more pronounced in the meditation group.
Both groups improved significantly in memory and cognitive function, as well as in sleep and psychological status, although improvements in stress, mood and quality of life were substantially greater in the meditation group.
Have you ever tried meditation? Did you find that it improved your quality of life and sleeping patterns? Would you recommend it to others?