A good night’s sleep plays an important role in our health and cognitive function, it not only helps maintaining a good overall health, but it also helps in maintaining our psychological health.
As we get older, we can start having alterations in our sleep patterns, which is thought to contribute to cognitive decline and psychiatric disorders in the aging population. Sleep keeps the brain healthy by removing waste products, which are normally present in high concentrations in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
A recent study published in the journal Nature Aging, by researchers from the UK and China, evaluated data from about 500,000 adults aged 38 to 73 years from the UK Biobank, in which participants were asked about their sleeping patterns, mental health and wellbeing. Brain imaging was also available for almost 40,000 participants.
The research team found that both insufficient and excessive sleep duration were associated with impaired cognitive performance, including processing speed, visual attention, memory and problem-solving skills.
They found that 7 hours of sleep per night was the optimal amount of sleep for cognitive performance and also for good mental health. Also, they observed that people sleeping for both longer or shorter durations reported more symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The team also observed a link between the amount of sleep and differences in the brain structure, in regions involved in cognitive processing and memory.
University of Cambridge. “Seven hours of sleep is optimal in middle and old age, say researchers.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 April 2022.