Do you think 8 hours of sleep is best? Think again! | science | In-depth report on science and technology

Most of us have a laid back attitude when it comes to painting a picture about eight hours a night. But once people reach a certain age, that will not be the case.

A team of researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Futan University in China found that seven hours of sleep may be better for middle-aged and older people.

A study published in the journal natural agingResearchers said seven hours of sleep is best for cognitive performance and mental health.

Researchers examined data on 500,000 participants between the ages of 38 and 73 and found that adequate – but excessive – sleep was associated with poorer cognitive performance and poor mental health.

Study participants reported their sleep patterns and answered questions about their well-being and mental health. They completed a number of cognitive tasks that tested processing speed, visual focus, memory and problem-solving skills. Those who slept seven hours uninterrupted performed better on board.

However, there is a caveat: 94% of participants are white, so it is unclear whether the results apply to people of color and other racial or cultural backgrounds.

Another important factor is consistency. The best results were seen in those who showed slight fluctuations in their long-term sleep patterns, and those who stuck for seven hours.

In other words, getting four hours of sleep before a big meeting cannot be “created” by getting 10 hours of sleep the next night.

Disturbed sleep: risk of dementia

“It’s important to sleep well at all stages of life, especially as we get older,” says Barbara Sahakian, a professor at Cambridge University. Co-author of the study.

The researchers said that insomnia prevents the process of flushing out toxins from the brain. They also say that slow wave or deep sleep disruption can lead to cognitive decline.

When deep sleep is disturbed, it affects memory coordination and can lead to the formation of a protein called amyloid – if it does not perform its functions – which causes “problems” in the brain, a feature of some types of dementia.

Adequate or excessive sleep can be a risk factor for cognitive decline in old age.

“While we can not be sure that too little or too much sleep is causing cognitive problems, it seems that our analysis supports this idea,” said Jianfengfeng, a brain scientist and professor at Futan University. “But the causes of poor sleep in the elderly appear to be complicated by a combination of our genetic makeup and our brain structure.”

The duration of sleep affects the structure of the brain

The researchers also looked at brain imaging and genetic data, but those data were only available to less than 40,000 participants.

The data suggest that the amount of sleep is related to differences in the structure of the brain’s memory and learning centers, such as the hippocampus and the present cortex, which are responsible for activating voluntary movements.

With the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia – diseases of aging with cognitive impairments – linked to sleep deprivation, more work is needed in the field of sleep science, the researchers said.

“Finding ways to improve sleep for older adults will be important in helping them maintain mental health and well-being. [their] “It avoids cognitive decline, especially in patients with psychiatric disorders and dementia,” Sahakian said.

Written by: Zulfiqar Abani

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