A new study has shown that seven hours of sleep a night is optimal for those in their mid to older ages. And, too much or too little sleep is linked with poorer mental health and cognitive performance.
Sleep is important in maintaining great psychological health and cognitive performance. It additionally helps in keeping the brain healthy through removing products that are waste. As we age we often see changes in our patterns of sleep which includes trouble staying asleep and falling asleep and also decreased quality and quantity of sleep. It is thought that these disturbances of sleep might add to psychiatric disorders and cognitive decline in the older population.
In the study the scientists looked at data from almost 500,000 adults who were aged 38 to 73 years. Participants were questioned about their sleeping habits, well being and mental health and also participated in a group of cognitive tests. Genetic data and brain imaging were available for nearly 40,000 of the participants.
Through analyzing the data, the researchers discovered that both excessive and insufficient duration of sleep were linked with impaired performance of cognitive skills such as visual attention, processing speed, skills for problem solving and memory. Seven hours of sleep each night was the optimal quantity of sleep for performance of cognitive skills and also good for mental health. Participants experienced more symptoms of worse overall well being, depression and anxiety if they revealed sleeping for shorter and longer durations.
The team says one potential reason for the link between cognitive decline and insufficient sleep might be due to the disruption of deep sleep or slow wave sleep. This type of disruption has been known to have a close link to memory consolidation and also with the build up of amyloid. This is a significant protein that misfolds, causing “tangles” in the characteristics in the brain of some dementia forms. Also, lack of sleep may hinder the ability of the brain to get rid of toxins.
The researchers additionally discovered an association between the sleep amount and differences in the structure of regions in the brain that are involved in memory and cognitive processing. And, once again it also showed more changes linked to less or greater than seven hours of sleep.
Experiencing an unvarying seven hours of sleep every night without too much duration fluctuation was additionally important to good mental health, well being and performance of cognitive skills. Earlier research has also shown that sleep patterns that are interrupted are linked with increased inflammation which indicates a susceptibility to diseases that are age related.
While the team cannot say for sure that too much or too little sleep may cause cognitive problems, their analysis looking at participants over a longer time period seems to support this thought. However, the reasons why people who are older have poorer sleep appears to be complicated, influenced by a combination of brain structure and genetic makeup.
The findings have suggested that excessive or insufficient duration of sleep might be a risk factor for decline in cognition with aging. This is supported by earlier research that has reported an association between the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease and duration of sleep in which decline in cognition is a hallmark symptom.
Getting a good night of sleep is important during all the stages of life, but is particularly important as people age. Finding ways that will improve sleep for the older population could be imperative to helping them keep up good well being and mental health and in addition avoiding decline in cognition skills and particularly for people with dementias and psychiatric disorders.
To view the original scientific study click below:
The brain structure and genetic mechanisms underlying the nonlinear association between sleep duration, cognition and mental health