Little or poor sleep may be associated with worse brain function when aging

Credit: xiaphias/Wikipedia

Research published today in PLOS ONE by researchers at the University of Warwick indicates that sleep problems are associated with worse memory and executive function in older people.

Analysis of sleep and cognitive (brain function) data from 3,968 men and 4,821 women who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), was conducted in a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Respondents reported on the quality and quantity of sleep over the period of a month.

The study showed that there is an association between both quality and duration of sleep and brain function which changes with age.

In adults aged between 50 and 64 years of age, short sleep (<6hrs per night) and long sleep (>8hrs per night) were associated with lower brain function scores. By contrast, in (65-89 years) lower brain function scores were only observed in long sleepers.

Dr Michelle A Miller says "6-8 hours of sleep per night is particularly important for optimum brain function, in younger adults". These results are consistent with our previous research, which showed that 6-8 hours of sleep per night was optimal for physical health, including lowest risk of developing obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and stroke".

Interestingly, in the younger pre-retirement aged adults, did not have any significant association with brain function scores, whereas in the older adults (>65 years), there was a significant relationship between sleep quality and the observed scores.

"Sleep is important for good health and mental wellbeing" says Professor Francesco Cappuccio, "Optimising sleep at an older age may help to delay the decline in seen with age, or indeed may slow or prevent the rapid decline that leads to dementia".

Dr Miller concludes that "if is causative of future cognitive decline, non-pharmacological improvements in may provide an alternative low-cost and more accessible Public Health intervention, to delay or slow the rate of cognitive decline".

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

date 17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

date 17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

date 19 hours ago

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

date 21 hours ago

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.