Morning or evening activity improves neuropsychological performance and subjective sleep quality in older adults

Susan Benloucif*, Larry Orbeta, Rosemary Ortiz, Imke Janssen, Sanford I. Finkel, Joseph Bleiberg, Phyllis C. Zee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: Sleep disturbances and decline in neuropsychological performance are common in older adults. Reduced social and physical activity is likely a contributing factor for these age-related changes in sleep and cognition. We previously demonstrated that a program of structured social and physical activity, with 2 daily activity sessions, 1 in the morning and 1 in the evening for a relatively short period of 2 weeks, improved sleep and neuropsychological performance in community-dwelling older adults. The goals of this pilot study were to determine whether a single daily morning or evening activity session for 2 weeks would also improve sleep and neuropsychological function and whether these effects were dependent on the timing of the activity sessions Design: We compared the effect of morning or evening structured activity sessions in a repeated-measures crossover design. Subjective mood, neuropsychological performance tasks, and subjective and objective measures of sleep were assessed at baseline and after the intervention. Setting: All procedures took place in the participant's residence. Participants: Twelve older men and women (74.6 ± 5.5 years of age). Interventions: Subjects participated in 14 days of structured activity sessions in the morning (9:00-10:30 am) or evening (7:00-8:30 pm). Sessions consisted of stretching, low-impact aerobics, and game playing. Measurements and Results: Exposure to either morning or evening activity significantly improved performance on a neuropsychological test battery. Morning activity sessions increased throughput on 4 of 8 performance tasks, while evening activity sessions improved throughput on 7 of the 8 performance tasks. Subjective sleep-quality ratings, measured by the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index, improved following activity sessions in either the morning or the evening. Objective measures of sleep did not improve when measured by actigraphy or polysomnography. Conclusions: These results suggest that short-term exposure to either morning or evening social and physical activity improves objective measures of neuropsychological performance and subjective sleep quality in the elderly. Increasing exposure to social and physical activity may be a useful intervention to improve sleep quality and daytime function in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1542-1551
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 15 2004


  • Aging
  • Exercise
  • Performance
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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