Seven hours of sleep is optimal from middle age

Seven hours of sleep is optimal from middle age

How much sleep is enough – and how much is too much? Not an easy question, because the need for sleep varies from person to person. Age also plays a role.

Seven hours of sleep is the ideal amount of sleep for middle-aged and older people. This was reported by US and Chinese scientists in the journal “Nature Aging”.

The study concluded that significantly more or less sleep is associated with impaired mental health and poorer mental performance. Sleeping well is all the more important, especially for older people.

Specifically, scientists from the universities of Cambridge and Fuhan looked at data from nearly 500,000 adults between the ages of 38 and 73 collected on the British Biobank, a comprehensive British database. The subjects were questioned about their sleep patterns, mental health and well-being, and also took part in a series of cognitive tests. MRI images of the brain and genetic data were available for nearly 40,000 participants.

Affected cognitive performance

Analysis of all this information showed that both too little and too much sleep were associated with impaired cognitive performance: matched subjects were slower on tests and had shorter attention spans and poor problem-solving skills. Their mental health was also affected: People who slept too much or too little showed more symptoms of anxiety and depression and lower overall well-being.

Researchers suspect that a disruption to slow-wave sleep, part of deep sleep, could be a possible cause of cognitive decline. This disorder is associated with an accumulation of beta-amyloid molecules. These protein deposits, found in large lumps in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, are suspected of contributing to nerve cell death.

Analysis of brain scans also revealed an association between different sleep durations and differences in the structure of brain regions involved in cognitive processing and memory. Among them was the hippocampus, which is considered the memory center of the brain.

Sleep duration could be a risk factor

Overall, the researchers conclude, seven hours of uninterrupted sleep appears to be ideal for cognitive performance, general well-being and mental health in middle-aged and older people. Although the study does not describe causation, the results indicated that insufficient or excessive sleep duration could be a risk factor for cognitive decline in old age.

As author Jianfeng Feng points out in a statement: “While we can’t say for sure that too little or too much sleep causes cognitive problems, our analysis, which examines people over a longer period of time, appears to support this idea.” . , why older people slept less appeared to be complex, involving a combination of genetics and brain structure.

Neuropsychologist and co-author Barbara Sahakian adds that good sleep is important at all stages of life, but especially as we age: “Finding ways to improve older people’s sleep could be key in helping them improve their mental health and their well-being and avoid cognitive decline, particularly in patients with psychiatric disorders and dementia ”.

Older people take more naps

In fact, according to the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM), older people in particular often report trouble sleeping, a decrease in total sleep time, more naps during the day, and an increasing use of sleeping pills. . However, more and more often, sleep difficulties are identified in all age groups and around the world.

In Germany alone, a third of respondents in a 2017 Techniker-Krankenkasse study complained of sleep problems, and one in two said they slept no more than six hours. According to a guideline from the US National Sleep Foundation (NSF), it should actually be seven to nine hours for adults. However, their authors point out that the need for sleep varies from person to person.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220502-99-121460 / 2


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