After we reached the Middle Age, seven hours of sleep is the trick

After we reached the Middle Age, seven hours of sleep is the trick ...

According to researchers at the University of Cambridge and Fudan University, seven hours is the ideal amount of sleep for people in their middle years and upwards, with too little or too much sleep causing poorer cognitive performance and mental health.

Sleep plays an important role in promoting cognitive function and maintaining good psychological health. It also assists in maintaining the brain well by eliminating waste goods. As we age, we often notice modifications in our sleeping patterns, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and decreased quantity and quality of sleep. These anxieties are thought to lead to cognitive decline and psychiatric deterioration in the older population.

Researchers from the United Kingdom and China conducted an examination of data from nearly half 500,000 adults aged 38-73 years old. Participants were asked about their sleeping patterns, mental health, and wellbeing, and took part in a series of cognitive tests. Nearly 40,000 participants were given brain imaging and genetic data.

By analysing these findings, the team found that both inadequate and excessive sleep duration were linked to impaired cognitive performance, such as processing speed, visual attention, memory, and problem-solving skills. Seven hours of sleep per night was the best amount of sleep for cognitive performance, but also for good mental health, with individuals experiencing more symptoms of anxiety and depression and worse overall wellbeing if they reported sleeping for longer or shorter periods.

One potential explanation for the association between inadequate sleep and cognitive decline is the presence of slow-wave deep sleep. Disruption to this type of sleep has been shown to be a close link to memory consolidation as well as the build-up of amyloid, a key protein which, when it misfolds, can cause tangles in the brain characteristic of some forms of dementia. Decrease in sleep may also hamper the brains'' ability to rid itself of chemicals.

The study concluded that sleep differences were correlated with the length of time it takes to study brain regions involved in cognitive processing and memory, while also that there were greater changes resulting in greater than or less than seven hours of sleep.

Having a consistent seven-hour sleep every night, without too much variation in duration, was critical to cognitive performance and well-being. Previous studies have also shown that reduced sleep patterns are linked to increased inflammation, indicating a susceptibility to age-related illnesses in older individuals.

While we cannot say that too little or too much sleep causes cognitive difficulties, our research on individuals over a long period of time appears to support this notion. Nevertheless, the reasons why older people have poorer sleep are likely to be complex, influenced by a combination of our genetic makeup and the structure of our brains.

According to the researchers, lack of or excessive sleep duration might be a risk factor for cognitive decline in ageing. This is backed by previous research that has shown a link between sleep duration and the risk of developing Alzheimers disease and dementia, in which cognitive decline is a common symptom.

One of the researchers at the University of Cambridge, Professor Barbara Sahakian, said that being able to get a good nights sleep is essential at all stages of life, but especially as we age. Finding strategies to improve sleep for older individuals may be crucial for their health and wellbeing, particularly for patients with psychiatric problems.

The research was supported by the China National Key R&D Program, the Shanghai Municipal Science and Technology Major Project, the Shanghai Center for Brain Science and Brain-Inspired Technology, the 111 Project, the National Natural Sciences Foundation, and the Shanghai Rising Star Program.

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