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Keep your brain sharp by finding the “sweet spot” of your sleep, the study says



This fable could be applied to the duration of sleep in people as they age. Like Baby Bear, older people who sleep “right” (with six to eight hours of quality most nights) appear to slow cognitive decline and keep the brain sharp, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal. Brain.

“Our study suggests that there is a mid-range, or‘ sweet spot ’, for total sleep time where cognitive performance was stable over time,” said study co-author Dr. Brendan Lucey in a statement. Lucey is an associate professor of neurology and section head from the University of Washington Sleep Medicine Center in St. Louis. Louis.

The study monitored the sleep of 100 older adults who were tested for cognitive impairment and evidence of early Alzheimer’s disease. and found that only those who slept for six to eight hours retained brain function.

If a person slept less than five and a half hours, their cognitive performance suffered, even after controlling for factors such as age, sex, and Alzheimer’s disease. This also applied to people at the other end of the sleep spectrum. If they slept more than seven and a half hours, cognition decreased.

“Not only those who slept short, but also those who slept long had more cognitive decline,” said co-author Dr. David Holtzman, scientific director of the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders at the University of Medicine School. Washington.

“It suggests that sleep quality may be key, as opposed to just total sleep,” he said in a statement.

Aim for a continuous and quality rest

Adults should sleep at least seven hours a night, while school-age children need nine to 12 hours and adolescents eight to ten hours, depending on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Older adults often have difficulty getting a full seven hours due to chronic conditions and medications that can cause them to wake up.

But getting a good restful sleep is more than great. The quality of sleep you have while your head is on the pillow is also very important. If you wake up frequently due to noise or sleep apnea or to use the bathroom, this will interrupt the sleep cycle and deprive your body of the restful sleep it needs.

The “sweet spot” for sleeping is when you can sleep continuously through the four stages of sleep four to six times each night. Because each cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes, most people need seven to eight hours of relatively uninterrupted sleep to achieve this goal.

In stages 1 and 2, the body begins to slow down. Heartbeat and slow breathing, low body temperature and eye movements stop. This prepares you for the next stage: a slow-wave deep sleep, also known as delta sleep. It is the time when the brain repairs the body from the wear and tear of the day. During deep sleep, the body literally recovers at the cellular level.

Sleep with rapid eye movements, called REM, comes next. This is the stage we dream of and information and experiences are consolidated and stored in memory. Studies have shown this REM sound is missing it can lead to memory deficits and poor cognitive outcomes, as well as chronic and heart disease and premature death.

Therefore, chronic sleep deprivation affects your ability to pay attention, learn new things, be creative, solve problems, and make decisions.

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Unfortunately, as people get older, they begin to have trouble sleeping and staying asleep without interruption, which can drastically affect deeper sleep and brain function.

A September A 2021 study published in the journal JAMA Neurology found that they had older people sleeping less than six hours a night. more beta amyloid in the brain than those who slept for seven to eight hours. Beta amyloid is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

How to improve deep sleep

The good news is that you can train your brain to get better sleep, thus giving your body more time to spend on both REM and restorative deep sleep.

Going to bed and waking up at the same hours of the day, including weekends, is a tip to get your brain going to a better sleep, according to experts.

Then set up your sleep environment and establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Yoga, a hot shower, a good but not too exciting book read in a soft light – all these ways to help your body relax while sleeping.

The REM stage of sleep is a lighter level of rest that can be interrupted more easily, so provide low-noise, low-light, and cooler temperatures in the bedroom. Remember: the bed should only be used for sleeping and having sex. TVs and other blue light devices, such as smartphones and laptops, have no place in the bedroom.

Avoid fatty and spicy foods before bed so that your stomach upset does not wake you up while you dream.

Alcohol is another no-no. You may think it helps you fall asleep, but you are more likely to wake up at night when your body begins to process spirits, thus interrupting these beneficial stages of sleep.

Correction: We got the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” wrong. It was Goldilocks who found Baby Bear’s bed to be “okay”.