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Seven hours of sleep is optimal – Study

Researchers from the United Kingdom (UK) and China have said seven hours is the ideal amount of sleep for people in their middle age and upwards, with too little or too much little sleep associated with poorer cognitive performance and mental health. The results of the findings were published yesterday in ‘Nature Ageing’.

Sleep plays an important role in enabling cognitive function and maintaining good psychological health. It also helps keep the brain healthy by removing waste products. As we get older, we often see alterations in our sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep and decreased quantity and quality of sleep.

It is thought that these sleep disturbances may contribute to cognitive decline and psychiatric disorders in the aging population. The researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Fudan University in China examined data from nearly 500,000 adults aged 38 to 73 years from the UK Biobank. Brain imaging and genetic data were available for almost 40,000 of the study participants. The team found that both insufficient and excessive sleep duration were associated with impaired cognitive performance, such as processing speed, visual attention, memory and problemsolving skills. Seven hours of sleep per night was the optimal amount of sleep for cognitive performance, but also for good mental health, with people experiencing more symptoms of anxiety and depression and worse overall well-being if they reported sleeping for longer or shorter durations.

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