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[GOOD NIGHT] Seven hours of sleep optimal for cognition

Seven hours is the ideal amount of sleep for people in middle age and upwards, with too little or too much little sleep associated with poorer cognitive performance and mental health, according to a recent study.

Sleep plays an important role in enabling cognitive function and maintaining good psychological health. It also helps keep the brain healthy by removing waste products. As we get older, we often see alterations in sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and decreased quantity and quality of sleep. It is thought that these sleep disturbances may contribute to cognitive decline and psychiatric disorders in the aging population.

In research published April 28 in Nature Aging, scientists from the UK and China examined data from nearly 500,000 adults aged 38-73 years from the UK Biobank. Participants were asked about their sleeping patterns, mental health and wellbeing, and took part in a series of cognitive tests. Brain imaging and genetic data were available for almost 40,000 of the study participants.

By analyzing these data, the team found that both insufficient and excessive sleep duration were associated with impaired cognitive performance, such as processing speed, visual attention, memory and problem-solving skills. Seven hours of sleep per night was the optimal amount of sleep for cognitive performance, but also for good mental health, with people experiencing more symptoms of anxiety and depression and worse overall wellbeing if they reported sleeping for longer or shorter durations.

Study author Barbara Sahakian from the University of Cambridge, UK, said, "Getting a good night's sleep is important at all stages of life, but particularly as we age. Finding ways to improve sleep for older people could be crucial to helping them maintain good mental health and wellbeing and avoiding cognitive decline, particularly for patients with psychiatric disorders and dementias."

To read the abstract of the study, "The brain structure and genetic mechanisms underlying the nonlinear association between sleep duration, cognition and mental health," published in Nature Aging, click here

 

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