Navigation Links
Less-Than-Optimal Sleep May 'Age' the Brain

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- For middle-aged adults, sleeping less than six or more than eight hours a night is associated with a decline in brain function, British researchers contend.

The magnitude of that mental decline is equal to being four to seven years older, the researchers said.

"There is an expectation in today's 24-hour-a-day society that people should be able to fit more into their lives," said study author Jane Ferrie, a senior research fellow in the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London Medical School.

"The whole work/life balance struggle is causing people to trade in precious sleeping time to ensure they complete everything they feel is expected of them. Our study suggests that this may have adverse effects on their cognitive function," she said.

In fact, women who slept seven hours per night had the highest score for every cognitive measure, followed by those who had six hours of sleep. For men, cognitive function was similar for those who reported sleeping six, seven or eight hours.

However, less than six hours of sleep -- or more than eight hours -- were associated with lower scores, Ferrie said.

Noting that many biological processes take place at night, Ferrie explained that "sleep provides the body with its daily need for physiological restitution and recovery. While seven hours a night appears to be optimal for the majority of human beings, many people can function perfectly well on regular sleep of less or more hours."

However, since most research has focused on the effects of sleep deprivation on biological systems, it is not yet fully understood why seven hours is optimal -- or why long sleeping appears to be detrimental, Ferrie said.

"Chronic short sleep produces hormones and chemicals in the body which increase the risk of developing heart disease and strokes, and other conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and obesity," she added.

The report was published in the May 1 issue of Sleep.

Ferrie's team collected data on 5,431 men and women, aged 35 to 55 in 1985, who took part in a long-term look at London-based office staff known as the Whitehall II study.

In 1997-1999, the participants were asked how many hours they slept on an average week night, and were asked the same question in 2003-2004 after an average 5.4 years of follow-up. Those who reported changes in their sleep patterns were then compared with people whose sleep duration stayed the same over the course of the study.

In 2003-2004, each individual was given a battery of standard tests to assess his or her memory, reasoning, vocabulary, global cognitive status and verbal fluency.

The researchers found that during the study, 58 percent of men and 50 percent of women continued to sleep the same amount each night. However, 7.4 percent of women and 8.6 percent of men increased their slumber from seven to eight hours per night.

This change in sleep pattern was associated with lower scores on six tests of cognitive function, compared with people whose sleep time did not change, the researchers found.

Only scores on the test of short-term verbal memory were not affected by sleeping more, they noted.

In addition, some 25 percent of women and 18 percent of men reported decreases in their sleep -- dozing less than six, seven or eight hours per night.

This change was associated with lower scores on three of the six cognitive tests, with lower scores on the reasoning, vocabulary and global cognitive status tests, the researchers said. Surprisingly, increasing sleep from six hours or less had no beneficial effect, they added.

Dr. Alberto Ramos, co-director of the Health Sleep Medicine Program and an assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said various studies have shown sleeping too little or too much increases the risk of dying, having a heart attack or stroke and other health problems.

"Getting enough sleep helps many brain functions," Ramos said. "It is restorative, it lets you concentrate better and process new information better and faster."

It is not clear why too much sleep may be unhealthy, Ramos said. However, he speculates, it may be a sign of other health problems.

Ramos added that to stay healthy, sleep is as important as eating well and being physically active.

"We have to think of sleep the same way as we think about diet and exercise," Ramos said. "If we want to have a healthy lifestyle we think of diet and exercise, but part of the equation is that good sleep should be part of having a healthy lifestyle for healthy aging."

More information

For more information on sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundation.

SOURCES: Jane Ferrie, Ph.D., senior research fellow, department of epidemiology and public health, University College London Medical School; Alberto Ramos, M.D., co-director, Health Sleep Medicine Program, and assistant professor, clinical neurology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; May 1, 2011, Sleep

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Extra Sleep in Infants Seems to Signal Growth Spurts
2. Adverse changes in sleep duration are associated with lower cognitive scores in middle-aged adults
3. Study is the first to link sleep duration to infant growth spurts
4. Experts to discuss advances in dental sleep medicine treatments for sleep-disordered breathing
5. Fatigue and sleep woes worsen neurocognitive problems in childhood cancer survivors
6. Sleep Problems May Linger After Childhood Cancer
7. Sleep issues contribute to cognitive problems in childhood cancer survivors
8. Cardiovascular disease can be detected earlier during sleep
9. Sleeping through danger: the dormouse approach to survival
10. Internet program reduces infant and toddler sleep problems, helps moms sleep better too
11. Risk of death is high in older adults with sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Less-Than-Optimal Sleep May 'Age' the Brain
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Dr. Calvin ... injury. Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for treating his ... of the first doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances that orthopaedic ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... plastic surgery procedures that most people are unfamiliar with. The article goes on to ... known procedures, but also many of these less common operations such as calf and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... crisis. Her son James, eight, was out of control. Prone to extreme mood shifts and ... him, he couldn’t control his emotions,” remembers Marcy. “If there was a knife on ... say he was going to kill them. If we were driving on the freeway, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Dr. Amanda Cheng, ... treatment. Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all areas of orthodontics, including robotic ... osteogenic orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct to orthodontic treatment. It ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... People across the U.S. are sharpening their pencils and honing ... contest in which patients and their families pay tribute to a genetic counselor by ... Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) this September. , In ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition ... Chemical (Sugar, Petrochemical, Glycerin), Inorganic Chemical), Functionality (Filler, Binder, ... Forecast to 2021" report to their offering. ... excipients market is projected to reach USD 8.1 Billion ... forecast period 2016 to 2021. The ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Research ... Pharma News Issue 52" report to their offering. ... in influenza treatment creates a favourable commercial environment for MedImmune ... growing patient base that will serve to drive considerable growth ... vaccine would serve to cap sales considerably, but development is ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 ... Oticon , industry leaders in advanced ... launch of Oticon Opn ™, the world,s first ... of possibilities for IoT devices.      (Photo: ... Oticon introduces a number of ,world firsts,: ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: