Sleep deprivation and excess sleep are linked to poor brain function

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Both lack of sleep and excess sleep can be associated with impaired cognitive functions – memory and thinking speed. This was shown by a new work by Chinese scientists published in the JAMA Network Open.

Why is it important?

Cognitive impairment can be a harbinger of future dementia. Dementia is today considered one of the priority medical problems: supposedthat by 2050 the proportion of people with this mental disorder will reach one fifth of the world’s population. Since there is no cure for dementia yet, prevention this disease is especially important.

Scientists around the world are actively studying the causes and risk factors for dementia. Oddly enough, now can’t it’s hard to say whether sleep disturbances are a harbinger of dementia. Research on the relationship between sleep and cognitive decline in older adults has previously yielded conflicting results. One problem was the small amount of research.

What scientists have done

Chinese scientists analyzed data from two major studies of aging in China and England. In total, more than 20 thousand people took part in them, who reported their sleep habits and passed cognitive tests.

It turned out that those who sleep less than four hours or more than 10 hours perform worse on these tests. Their rates were lower than those who slept an average of seven hours a night. This means that “it is necessary to monitor the state of cognitive functions in people who sleep significantly less or more than normal,” the researchers said.

However, this study does not provide enough information to prove that lack or excess of sleep is the cause of dementia. Now scientists can only talk about the connection between these phenomena. The mechanism of these connections is poorly known. Scientists speculate that they may be based on inflammation.

How to sleep better

It is possible that quality sleep will be an important measure in the prevention of dementia. To Sleep Better at Night, American Nonprofit National Sleep Foundation recommends:

  • Set a realistic bedtime, and stick to it on weekdays and weekends.
  • The bedroom should be dark and not hot.
  • TVs, computers, tablets, smartphones should be prohibited in the bedroom.
  • You should not drink coffee-containing drinks before bed.
  • Late meals should be avoided.
  • You should try to give up tobacco.
  • During the daytime, you need to devote time to physical activity.



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