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Sleeping Your Brain Younger

couple sleeping in bed

We are all familiar with the unpleasant effects of sleep-deprivation: fatigue, lack of energy, inattention, and irritability. Most of us should really get more sleep — it would make us feel and perform much better and can even help us lose weight. But did you know that it’s also possible to get too much sleep?

It turns out sleep is sort of like Goldilocks — you don’t want too little, and you don’t want too much.

What number is just right? The answer is really a range: somewhere between 6-8 hours. Any more or less than that may do more than just make you sleepy — it may cause your brain to age prematurely.

According to this study, both men and women who averaged seven hours of sleep performed better on reasoning tests than both people who slept fewer than six hours, as well as people who slept more than eight hours. Most interesting, the researchers involved think that the findings show that consistent sleep routines that include sleeping for around seven hours a night every night can help reduce the regular cognitive decline that happens to all of us as we get older:

  • The study tracked men and women over five years and consistently asked them to perform memory, vocabulary, and logic tests.
  • The study showed that people who got too little or too much sleep showed a loss in brain function that was like aging 4 to 7 years!
  • People tend to sleep less when they age, so maintaining between 6-8 hours of sleep a night may be a great natural way to prevent some of that natural memory loss that occurs with aging.

You might be surprised by the fact that too much sleep could be bad for you, and you wouldn’t be alone — the researchers in the study were surprised as well. They think it may be that these people aren’t actually sleeping more than 8 hours — they may be lying in bed battling insomnia, or they may be getting poor quality sleep. Being in bed doesn’t count — you need around seven hours of quality sleep in order to function at your best and keep your brain young.

Beauty sleep, for your body and your brain.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor™
The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan:  Lose Weight Through Better Sleep
Everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep™
twitter: @thesleepdoctor

Photo: iStockphoto

The opinions expressed in WebMD Second Opinion are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Second Opinion are... Expand


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