As the U.S. population ages, the number of people suffering form conditions and diseases related to old age—Alzheimer’s disease and dementia among them—is growing as well. In new research, massage therapy increased the amount of sleep received by dementia patients.

A pilot study tested the effects of a three-minute slow-stroke back massage (SSBM) on total minutes of nighttime sleep on persons with dementia with sleep disturbances aged 65 years or older in a nursing home, according to an abstract published on

For this randomized controlled trial, participants were randomized to an intervention group who received the three-minute SSBM or a usual care control condition group who received usual bedtime care, the abstract noted.

Forty-eight hours of actigraphy data was recorded and analyzed on sleep variables at baseline and post-intervention.

Descriptive statistics showed a 36-minute increase on minutes of nighttime sleep in the SSBM intervention group (46.1 minutes) compared with the control group (10.32 minutes), according to the abstract.

“The Effects of Slow-Stroke Back Massage on Minutes of Nighttime Sleep in Persons With Dementia and Sleep Disturbances in the Nursing Home: A Pilot Study” was published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing.

Related article:

• Research Shows Massage Therapy Lowers Stress and Aggression in Dementia Patients