Sleep Can Keep Your Brain Young
Most people these days don’t get enough sleep. After working a full day at the office, babysitting your grandkids or doing dozens of errands, you cook dinner for the family, spend the rest of the evening with your husband figuring out your finances, then wake up tomorrow and do it all over again. The next day, you’re exhausted, irritable, drained of energy and can barely function. Those few extra hours of sleep would have been more than nice—they almost feel necessary.
But believe it or not, it’s also possible to get too much sleep. A person should ideally aim to get between six and eight hours of shuteye a night—this optimal range will have you feeling alert and at your best. Any more or any less will not only make you wish you had a pillow and blanket at your desk, but it can also prematurely age your brain.
In one study, researchers tracked a group of men and women over the course of five years, asking them to perform memory, vocabulary and logic tests regularly. The researchers found that the people who got around seven hours of sleep a night scored higher on the tests than those who slept fewer than six hours and those who slept more than eight hours.
The study also found that the men and woman who got too little or too much sleep actually showed a decline in brain function—one that was equivalent to aging four to seven years.
To help put the brakes on the cognitive decline that happens as we age, it’s best to develop a consistent sleep schedule in which you get around seven hours of shuteye a night. And no, lying in bed worrying about tomorrow doesn’t count. It’s seven hours of good quality sleep that will keep you feeling refreshed and your brain youthful.