How long is enough sleep – and how much is too much? The need for sleep varies from person to person, and age also plays a role. Researchers now make a recommendation for people from middle age onwards. So they are better rested for https://22bet.ng/mobile/.
Seven hours of sleep is the ideal amount for middle-aged and older people. This was reported by U.S. and Chinese scientists in the scientific journal “Nature Aging”. The study concludes that significantly more or less sleep is associated with impaired mental health and poorer mental performance. Good sleep is all the more important, especially for older people.
THE RESEARCH IN THIS FIELD
Specifically, scientists from the Universities of Cambridge and Fuhan examined data from nearly 500,000 adults between the ages of 38 and 73, which were collected in the “UK Biobank,” a comprehensive British database. Subjects were asked about their sleep patterns, mental health and well-being, and also participated in a series of cognitive tests. MRI images of the brain and genetic data were available for almost 40,000 participants.
Analysis of all this information revealed that both too short and too long a sleep duration were linked to reduced cognitive performance – the subjects in question were slower on the tests and had lower attention spans and poorer problem-solving skills.
Their mental health also suffered: people with too much or too little sleep showed more symptoms of anxiety and depression and lower overall well-being.
The researchers suggest that a disturbance in slow-wave sleep, part of deep sleep, may be a possible reason for the cognitive performance decline. Such a disturbance is associated with an accumulation of beta-amyloid molecules. These protein deposits, found in large clumps in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, are suspected of contributing to neuronal cell death.
Analysis of the brain scans also revealed a link between differences in sleep duration and differences in the structure of brain regions involved in cognitive processing and memory. Among them was the hippocampus, considered the memory center of the brain.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE STUDY
Overall, the researchers concluded, seven hours of sleep without major fluctuations appears to be most ideal for cognitive performance, general well-being and mental health in middle-aged and older people. While the study did not describe causality, the findings suggested that insufficient or excessive sleep duration may be a risk factor for cognitive decline in old age.
While it’s impossible to say definitively that too little or too much sleep causes cognitive problems, analysis looking at people over time seems to support that idea.
The reasons older people slept worse, however, appeared to be complex, with a combination of genetic predisposition and brain structure playing a role.
Good sleep is important at all stages of life, but especially in old age. Finding ways to improve sleep in older people could be crucial to helping them maintain their mental health and well-being and avoid cognitive decline, especially in patients with psychiatric disorders and dementia.
In fact, according to the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM), older people in particular frequently report difficulty sleeping through the night, a decrease in total sleep time, increased daytime naps and an increase in the use of sleep medications. Sleep difficulties, however, are increasingly found across age groups and worldwide.
In Germany alone, one-third of respondents complained of sleep problems in a 2017 study by Techniker-Krankenkasse, and one in two said they get six hours of sleep or less. According to a guideline from the U.S. National Sleep Foundation (NSF), adults should actually get seven to nine hours of sleep.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP
1. Provide the right sleeping environment
A suitable environment is the most important prerequisite for a good night’s sleep. It is not for nothing that we usually find it easiest to sleep well at home in our own bed. The bedroom should be as quiet as possible, well ventilated, dark and not too warm. A temperature of 18 degrees is ideal. A comfortable bed is also important.
2. Refrain from caffeine in the evening
From about 4 hours before bedtime, you should avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and cola. If possible, you should also stop taking medications that contain caffeine. Caffeine stimulates brain activity and thus has a negative effect on sleep.
3. Find your nutritional rhythm
Nutrition is a matter of habit. Disrupting this habit also affects our sleep. For example, unusually sumptuous or late meals just before bedtime can disrupt sleep. Therefore, try to find your own rhythm when and how much you eat in the evening.
4. Try to give up smoking
Nicotine is also a stimulant that can disturb sleep or interrupt it through withdrawal symptoms. So, another reason why it is advisable to give up smoking.
5. Exercise regularly during the day
Regardless of their effect on our sleep, regular sports and exercise are good for our health. Physical activity promotes sleep, while inertia tends to cause sleep problems. However, the distance between the sporting activity and bedtime should be considered. If the distance is too short or the sporting activity is too strenuous, this can also have a negative effect on sleep.
6. Avoid excitement before going to sleep
To help the body rest before sleep, try to avoid exciting movies and cell phone/computer games before going to sleep. Stressful conversations also keep us awake longer and should be avoided in the evening if possible.
7. Refrain from drinking alcohol before bedtime
“But a glass of red wine helps me fall asleep.” – We hear this more often and this claim is usually not wrong. Alcohol reduces brain activity and thus actually makes us fall asleep more easily. However, it has a negative effect on the quality of our sleep, causing sleep interruptions and early waking.