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Keep Your Brain Alert By Finding Your ‘Perfect Place’ To Sleep, Study Finds

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This fable could also apply to the length of sleep in aging people. Much like Baby Bear, older people who get “just right” sleep – getting about six to eight hours of quality sleep most nights – seem to delay cognitive decline and keep their brains in shape, according to a study published Wednesday in the newspaper. Brain.

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

The study monitored the sleep of 100 elderly people who were tested for cognitive decline and evidence of early Alzheimer’s disease and found that only those who slept six to eight hours retained their 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, gender, and Alzheimer’s disease. This also applied to people on the other end of the sleep spectrum. If they slept more than about seven and a half hours, cognition decreased.

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

“This suggests that the quality of sleep may be essential, as opposed to just total sleep,” he said in a statement.

Aim for continuous, quality rest

Adults should sleep at least seven hours a night, while school-aged children need nine to 12 hours and teens need eight to 10 hours, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seniors often struggle to get a full seven hours due to chronic illnesses and medications that could cause them to wake up.

But getting good, restful sleep is more than a number. The quality of sleep you get when your head is on the pillow is also very important. If you wake up frequently to noises or sleep apnea or to use the bathroom, it interrupts your sleep cycle and robs the body of the restful sleep it needs.

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

In stages one and two, the body begins to decrease its rhythms. Slow heart rate and breathing, drop in body temperature and stop eye movements. This prepares you for the next step – deep slow wave sleep, also known as delta sleep. This is the time when the brain repairs the body from the wear and tear of the day. During deep sleep, your body literally regenerates itself at the cellular level.

Sleep with rapid eye movements, called REM, comes next. This is the stage in which we dream and the information and experiences are consolidated and stored in memory. Studies have shown that lack of REM sleep can lead to poor memory and poor cognitive performance, as well as heart disease and other chronic illnesses and premature death.

A chronic lack of sleep therefore has an impact on 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 start to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep without interruption, which can have a huge impact on deeper sleep and brain function.

September A 2021 study published in the journal JAMA Neurology found that older people who slept less than six hours a night had more beta-amyloid in their brains than those who slept between seven and 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 sleep better, giving your body more time to spend in both REM sleep and restful deep sleep.

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including on weekends, is a great tip for getting your brain to sleep better, experts say.

Next, 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 – these are all ways to help your body relax and fall asleep.

The REM phase is a lighter level of rest that can be more easily disrupted, so strive for little sound, little light, and cooler temperatures in the bedroom. Remember: the bed should only be used for sleep and sex. TVs and other gadgets that emit blue light, such as smartphones and laptops, have no place in the bedroom.

Avoid fatty and spicy foods before bed so that gastric distress does not wake you up while you are dreaming.

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

Correction: We were wrong about the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. It was Goldilocks who found Baby Bear’s bed “right”.


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