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Little or poor sleep may be associated with worse brain function when aging

Date:
June 26, 2014
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
Sleep problems are associated with worse memory and executive function in older people, new research concludes. Analysis of sleep and cognitive (brain function) data from 3,968 men and 4,821 women was conducted in a study where respondents reported on the quality and quantity of sleep over the period of a month.

Research published in PLOS ONE by researchers at the University of Warwick indicates that sleep problems are associated with worse memory and executive function in older people.

Analysis of sleep and cognitive (brain function) data from 3,968 men and 4,821 women who took part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), was conducted in a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Respondents reported on the quality and quantity of sleep over the period of a month.

The study showed that there is an association between both quality and duration of sleep and brain function which changes with age.

In adults aged between 50 and 64 years of age, short sleep (<6hrs per night) and long sleep (>8hrs per night) were associated with lower brain function scores. By contrast, in older adults (65-89 years) lower brain function scores were only observed in long sleepers.

Dr Michelle A Miller says "6-8 hours of sleep per night is particularly important for optimum brain function, in younger adults." These results are consistent with our previous research, which showed that 6-8 hours of sleep per night was optimal for physical health, including lowest risk of developing obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and stroke".

Interestingly, in the younger pre-retirement aged adults, sleep quality did not have any significant association with brain function scores, whereas in the older adults (>65 years), there was a significant relationship between sleep quality and the observed scores.

"Sleep is important for good health and mental wellbeing" says Professor Francesco Cappuccio, "Optimizing sleep at an older age may help to delay the decline in brain function seen with age, or indeed may slow or prevent the rapid decline that leads to dementia."

Dr Miller concludes that "if poor sleep is causative of future cognitive decline, non-pharmacological improvements in sleep may provide an alternative low-cost and more accessible Public Health intervention, to delay or slow the rate of cognitive decline."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Warwick. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michelle A. Miller, Hayley Wright, Chen Ji, Francesco P. Cappuccio. Cross-Sectional Study of Sleep Quantity and Quality and Amnestic and Non-Amnestic Cognitive Function in an Ageing Population: The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (6): e100991 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100991

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Little or poor sleep may be associated with worse brain function when aging." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140626172854.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2014, June 26). Little or poor sleep may be associated with worse brain function when aging. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140626172854.htm
University of Warwick. "Little or poor sleep may be associated with worse brain function when aging." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140626172854.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

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