Daily routines may influence sleep quality, quantity

Maintaining a consistent daily routine may be linked to better sleep, according to a small new study. Young adults who went to work and ate dinner around the same time every day typically slept better and woke up fewer times during the night. They also fell asleep more quickly at bedtime. Yet the exact time people performed daily activities — say, eating dinner at 6 pm versus 8 pm — had little bearing on how well they slept.

"For the majority of sleep outcomes, we found that completing activities at a regular time better predicted sleep outcomes than the actual time of day that activities were completed," Natalie Dautovich, a psychologist at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, said. She led the study, which was published in the Journals of Gerontology: Series B. "For example, people reported better sleep quality and fewer awakenings at night when they were consistent in the time they first went outside," Dautovich said.

Heart disease could be tied to dementia for older women

Older women with a history of heart trouble were more likely to develop thinking and memory problems than those without heart disease, it was found in a new study. Women who'd had a heart attack, in particular, were twice as likely to see declines in their thinking and memory skills, researchers found. Doctors had already suspected such a link existed, lead author Dr. Bernhard Haring said. "But our study provides new evidence on a broad scale including many different types of heart disease with a specific focus on postmenopausal women," he said.

Haring is based at the Comprehensive Heart Failure Center at the University of Würzburg in Germany. He and his colleagues used data from a long-term study of more than 6,000 women ages 65 to 79. About eight years later, more than 400 women showed signs of cognitive decline or dementia. Women who said they'd had heart disease were 29 percent more likely to have cognitive problems than those without heart disease.

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