Health: Seven hours of sleep is optimal from middle age – Wisdom

A new study shows that seven hours of sleep is the ideal amount of sleep for middle-aged and older people. Photo: alliance photo / dpa

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

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

The study concludes that more or less sleep is associated with impaired mental health and poorer mental performance. Good sleep is even more important, especially for older people.

Specifically, scientists from Cambridge and Fuhan Universities examined data from nearly 500,000 adults between the ages of 38 and 73, collected at 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 to almost 40,000 participants.

Influenced cognitive performance

Analysis of all this information showed that too little and too much sleep was associated with reduced cognitive performance – the subjects were slower on tests and had a shorter attention span and poorer problem-solving skills. Their mental health also suffered: people who slept too much or too little showed more symptoms of anxiety and depression and lower overall well-being.

Researchers suspect that an interruption in slow-wave sleep, part of deep sleep, may be a possible reason for cognitive decline. Such a disorder is accompanied by an accumulation of beta-amyloid molecules. These protein deposits, which are found in large clumps in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, are suspected of contributing to nerve cell death.

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

Sleep duration can be a risk factor

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

Author Jianfeng Feng states in a statement: “While we can not conclusively say that too little or too much sleep causes cognitive problems, our analysis, which looks at people for a longer period of time, seems to support this idea.” However, the reasons why older people slept poorly seemed complex, including 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 with age: “Finding ways to improve older people’s sleep can be crucial to help them improve “their mental health and well-being and avoid cognitive decline, especially in patients with psychiatric disorders and dementia.”

The elderly get more sleep

In fact, according to the German Association for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM), seniors in particular often report problems with staying asleep, reduced total sleep time, more naps during the day, and increased use of sleeping pills. . Increasingly, however, sleep difficulties are being identified in all age groups and worldwide.

In Germany alone, a third of respondents to a 2017 study by Techniker-Krankenkasse complained of sleep problems and every second person said they slept no more than six hours. According to an instruction 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.

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