Most of us have taken it as a rule: A full night’s sleep means eight hours for an adult. But that may not be true when people reach a certain age.
A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Fudan University in China found that seven hours of sleep may be the ideal amount of sleep for middle-aged and elderly people.
In a study published in the journal aging natureResearchers said they found that seven hours of sleep is best for cognitive performance and good mental health.
Researchers examined data from nearly 500,000 participants aged 38 to 73 and found that not enough – as well as excessive – sleep is associated with poorer cognitive performance and poor mental health.
Study participants reported their sleep patterns and also answered questions about their well-being and mental health. They completed a series of cognitive tasks that tested treatment speed, visual attention, memory, and problem-solving abilities. And those who got seven hours of uninterrupted sleep did better across the board.
However, there is a caveat: 94% of the participants were white, so it is unclear whether the results apply to colored people and other racial or cultural backgrounds.
Another important factor is consistency. The best results were seen in individuals who showed few fluctuations in their sleep pattern over an extended period of time and who persisted for seven hours.
In other words, four hours of sleep before a big meeting can not be “compensated” with 10 hours of sleep the next night.
Interrupted sleep: the risk of dementia
Barbara Sahakian, professor at the University of Cambridge and … said: The study co-authored.
The researchers said that lack of sleep is likely to hinder the detoxification process of the brain. They also say that slow waves or deep sleep may be responsible for cognitive decline.
When deep sleep is disturbed, it affects memory consolidation and can lead to an accumulation of amyloid, a protein that, if not functioned properly, can cause “tangles” in the brain that are characteristic of some forms of dementia.
Inadequate or excessive sleep can be a risk factor for cognitive decline in old age.
“While we can not definitively say that too little or too much sleep causes cognitive problems, our analysis seems to support this idea,” said Jianfengfeng, neuroscientist and professor at Fudan University. “But the reasons why older adults sleep poorly seem to be complex, influenced by a combination of genetic makeup and the structure of our brains.”
The length of sleep affects the structure of the brain
The researchers also looked at brain imaging and genetic data, but these data were only available to fewer than 40,000 participants.
These data showed that the amount of sleep may be associated with differences in the structure of brain regions, such as the hippocampus, the brain’s center of memory and learning, and the central cortex responsible for performing voluntary movements.
Because the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – age-related diseases associated with cognitive impairment – has been linked to sleep duration, the researchers said there is a need for more work in sleep science.
“Finding ways to improve sleep for older adults can be crucial in helping them maintain good mental health and well-being and [their] Avoid cognitive decline, especially for patients with psychiatric disorders and dementia.
Edit: Zulfiqar Abani