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New research claims to have found the ideal amount of sleep for middle-aged adults and the elderly.
The meta-analysis found that seven hours of sleep improved cognitive skills, protected the brain from dementia, and improved mental health.
Experts say that sleep quality is also important, and getting a deep sleep as we age is crucial to brain health.
We have been told time and time again that adults need it from seven to nine hours of sleep every night, but new research points to the exact quality Z amount that can support our cognitive abilities, move away first signs of dementiaand even protect our mental health.
The new study published in the journal Aging in nature found that about seven hours of sleep are ideal for middle-aged and older adults.
Research found that anything more than seven hours was associated with a reduced ability to remember, learn new things, focus, solve problems, and make decisions. In addition, sleep was more or less associated with experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression and worse overall well-being.
The study did have some limitations in the data, namely that 94% of participants reported that they are of European and Caucasian descent. In addition, the study only measured a self-report of how long participants slept and not sleep quality. Michael Breus, Ph.D.a Oura Sleep Advisor, who did not participate in the study, points out that this may mean that the data may not be transferred to all populations.
Researchers from China and the United Kingdom analyzed Biobank of the United Kingdom data (a long-term health study) of 500,000 adults between the ages of 38 and 73. Study participants were asked about their sleep patterns, mental health, and well-being, and also participated in multiple cognitive tests. For nearly 40,000 of the participants, the scientists also had access to brain imaging and genetic information. The researchers analyzed genetic factors, cognitive skills, brain structure, and mental health to determine the ideal length of sleep for participants.
How Sleep Affects Brain Health
“While we can’t say conclusively that too little or too much is causing cognitive problems, our analysis of looking at people over a long period of time seems to support this idea.” Jianfeng Feng, M.Sc and Ph.D.said a corresponding author of the study and a professor at Fudan University in China a statement. “But the reasons why older people have poorer sleep appear to be complex, influenced by a combination of our genetic structure and the structure of our brain.”
The team found that the amount of sleep can affect the structure of some brain regions involved in cognitive processing and memory and the biggest negative changes were found in people who slept for more than seven hours.
Abhinav Singh, MD, FAASMan expert in medical review a The Sleep Foundation and the medical director of the Indiana Sleep Center, who did not participate in the study, explains that less than seven hours of sleep is not enough time for your brain to recover during the day. A product called b-amyloid can build up in the brain without getting enough sleep in chronically sleep-deprived individuals, and has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. But even short-term sleep deprivation has been linked to memory loss and cognitive problems, he says.
In addition, the researchers said that one possible reason for cognitive decline due to less than optimal sleep may be due to a deep sleep disruption. This disruption has previously been shown to affect memory and has connections to dementia.
Breus explains that it is important to aim for this deep sleep, or REM sleep, which happens in the middle of the night. “This is very important when it comes to cognition because it’s when information moves from short-term memory to long-term memory,” he notes. Therefore, getting enough sleep can be more important than the actual hours in bed.
“Getting a good night’s sleep is important at every stage of life, but especially as we age. Finding ways to improve the sleep of older people could be crucial in helping them maintain good mental health and mental well-being. to prevent cognitive decline, especially for patients with psychiatric disorders and dementia. ” Barbara Sahakian, FMedSci, D.Sc.author of the study and professor in the psychiatry department at Cambridge University, said in the statement.
How to get a good night’s sleep
There are many factors that affect a good night’s sleep, explains Dr. Singh. The reasons why do you wake up at night or fighting for a quality Z can range from your work schedule and circadian preferences to social responsibilities and sleep disordershe says. Research It has even been shown that your age, gender, socioeconomic status, environment, mental health problems, and alcohol, caffeine, or cannabis use can affect your sleep, Breus adds.
“Personally, I think it’s silly to try to pick a number for my total sleep needs,” says Breus. He adds that he uses a sleep tracker to determine the quality of his sleep, which is more important than quantity, and notes that sleep needs will fluctuate from person to person.
If you find it difficult to get enough sleep at night, you can create the atmosphere with a sleeping spray o natural sleep aids. You should also make sure the room is dark or try to use one sleeping mask and keep the room temperature cool and use refreshing blankets, cooling mattress pads, cooling sheetsi refreshing pillows as needed.
Conor Heneghan, Ph.D.., a senior staff research scientist at Fitbit he says get enough of the most valuable stages of sleep can be improved by:
Go to bed and wake up.
Avoid alcohol at bedtime.
Create a optimal daytime routine to help you sleep better at night.
Get moving during the day, but not too close to bedtime.
Avoid eating too close to bedtime.
Leave work emails and turn off the TV.
Use a sleep tracker to understand sleep patterns and keep a consistent schedule.
But even if you follow these guidelines, some people will still have difficulty sleeping and may suffer from insomnia, says Heneghan. “They don’t need the extra pressure to fall short in any way,” he says.
If you have trouble sleeping what you need, Heneghan recommends working with a behavioral sleep specialist to improve your sleep and try new approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
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