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The quality of sleep, the number of hours of sleep…our nights are of crucial importance to our physical and mental health. And according to English researchers, you should sleep 7 hours a night (no more, no less) to keep your brain at its best.
Sleep plays an important role in activating cognitive functions and maintaining good mental health, as well as maintaining a healthy brain. English researchers from the University of Cambridge in the UK and Fudan in China collaborated to find out the ideal sleep duration for a person over the age of 40.
More than 40,000 attendees
To do this, they looked at data from nearly 500,000 adults between the ages of 38 and 73. All of them were asked about their sleep habits, mental health, and wellness. They also took cognitive tests. Nearly 40,000 participants in this study also provided genetic data and brain images, which made it possible to target the hippocampus as the area affected by sleep duration.
Seven hours of sleep every night
Their findings were published April 28 in the journal aging nature. At the end of the analysis, the scientists concluded that those who slept 7 hours a night showed better results on tests related to information processing speed, visual attention, memory, or problem-solving ability. The latter also showed less obvious signs of anxiety and depression. These are compared to those who slept less than seven hours or more.
One of the study’s lead authors, Jianfeng Feng from Fudan University in China, explains: « Although we cannot definitively say that too little – or too much – sleep causes cognitive problems, our analysis of individuals over a longer period of time appears to support this idea. But the reasons why older adults sleep less appears to be complex, influenced by a combination of genetic makeup and brain structure.« .
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of paramount importance
How do we explain these results? Researchers believe that the link between insufficient sleep and cognitive decline may stem from a disruption of the slow to deep phases of sleep. In addition, lack of sleep can reduce the brain’s ability to eliminate toxins.
To Professor Barbara Sahakian, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge: “Getting a good night’s sleep is important in all stages of life, especially as we age« She explained. »Finding ways to improve sleep in older adults can be crucial in helping them maintain good mental health and stave off cognitive decline, especially for patients with mental disorders and dementia.”.