A study recently published in the journal Nature Aging showed that both insufficient and excessive amounts of sleep contributed to uneven cognitive performance in a middle-aged to the elderly population of nearly 500,000 UK adults. The research aimed to better understand the link between sleep, cognition and well-being.
The main finding was that seven hours of sleep per night is optimal, with greater or lesser amounts of time providing less benefit for cognition and mental health. The researchers concluded that people who slept that amount performed better on average on cognitive tests-including processing speed, visual attention, and memory than those who slept more or fewer hours.
Those responsible for the study also understood that the relationship between sleep duration, cognition, and mental health is mediated by genetics and brain structure. They noted that the brain regions that are most affected by sleep deprivation include the hippocampus, best known for its role in learning and memory, and areas of the frontal cortex, involved in controlling emotions.
While seven hours of sleep is optimal to protect against loss of brain function, the study suggests that getting enough sleep may also alleviate the symptoms of the disease by protecting memory.
Source: Nature Aging