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This is the optimal amount of sleep for older adults

This is the optimal amount of sleep for older adults

If you want to keep your mind sharp, aim for seven hours of sleep a night in middle and advanced age, according to a recent study by researchers at t

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If you want to keep your mind sharp, aim for seven hours of sleep a night in middle and advanced age, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England and Fudan University in China.

Getting less or more than seven hours of sleep is more likely to lead to poorer cognitive performance and mental health, the study found.

The researchers looked at data from nearly half a million British adults between the ages of 38 and 73, which included detailed information on their sleep patterns and mental and physical health. The subjects also participated in cognitive testing.

In analyzing the data, the researchers concluded that too little or too much sleep is associated with poorer cognitive performance, including diminished:

  • Processing speed
  • Visual attention
  • Memory

Anxiety, depression and worse overall well-being were also more common among those who did not sleep for the optimal seven hours – no less, no more – every night.

The researchers speculate that disruption of slow-wave sleep – commonly referred to as “deep sleep” – may lead to a buildup of amyloid, a protein that leads to brain “tangles” associated with some forms of dementia.

Not getting the right amount of sleep can also prevent the brain from getting rid of toxins.

In a press release on the study, Professor Jianfeng Feng of Fudan University said:

“While we can not conclusively say that too little or too much sleep causes cognitive problems, it seems that our analysis that looks at individuals over a longer period of time supports this idea. But the reasons why older people sleep worse appear to be complicated, influenced by a combination of our genetic makeup and the structure of our brain. ”

For more on how to keep your brain healthy, read “7 Lifestyle Changes That Can Help Prevent Dementia.”

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