Our ability to get a good night’s sleep can slip as we age, and up to 50% of people 65 and older report regular sleep disturbances. This can reduce the amount of time spent in deep sleep stages, which has all kinds of cascading negative effects on health. With this in mind, a team of researchers out of Australia set out looking for tools to help older folks improve their sleep quality. There’s one that shows a lot of promise—and it happens to be super easy, completely free, and backed by thousands of years of use.

Researching acupuncture and sleep.

This study focused on people 65-plus living in residential aged care facilities who reported poor sleep quality. Half of the group followed a 12-minute acupressure routine three times a week for a month, while the other group just continued with their normal care. Participants’ self-reported sleep quality was measured before the study, right after the study, and two weeks after the study wrapped up.

Acupressure involves applying light pressure to certain points on the body. Hailing from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the practice is meant to help vital energy (known as chi) move through the body, as well as release muscle tension and promote healthy circulation. In TCM, acupoints along the heart, lungs, and kidneys are all thought to correspond to our ability to sleep, so these are the points where researchers focused their attention (HT7, PC6, and SP6).

Sure enough, the results show that those who received acupressure reported better overall sleep quality and less anxiousness than those who just had their normal care. This study is the latest to scientifically validate the simple but effective modality that dates back all the way to 2000 B.C.

Unlike acupuncture, acupressure is something that anyone can practice themselves at any time, no special equipment required—and no matter their age. And whether it’s sleep, digestion, immune function, or mood you’re looking to support, there’s a routine out there for you.

You can put this research into practice by testing out an acupressure sequence geared toward sleep; here’s one from acupuncturist and mbg class instructor Paige Bourassa, DACM, L.Ac., RHN.

Other ways to promote sleep as you age.

Over the years, quality of sleep can decline thanks to hormonal changes, shifting schedules, and new stressors. In addition to applying some strategic pressure, other habits that can keep you snoozing as you get older include sticking to a consistent sleep-wake schedule, getting plenty of exercise (physical and mental) during the day, and releasing worries at night through practices like journaling or meditating.

Taking a calming supplement like mbg’s sleep support+ can also help you achieve high-quality rest.* The nonhormonal nightly sleep aid is formulated with magnesium bisglycinate to promote a steady state of relaxation, jujube for calming and sedation, and PharmaGABA® to enhance natural sleep quality.* It’s a research-backed blend that has helped people of all ages rediscover the deep, uninterrupted sleep that they had when they were kids.*

New research out of Australia found that acupressure can promote better sleep quality in people over 65. Consider it yet another holistic method—along with supplements and calming routines—that can help us sustain our snoozes as we age.*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.