From this age on, you should sleep for exactly seven hours

Seven hours of sleep is the perfect amount of sleep for middle-aged and elderly people. This was reported by American and Chinese scientists in the journal Nature Aging.

The study’s conclusion is that much more or less sleep is associated with reduced mental health and reduced mental performance. Good sleep is all the more important, especially for the elderly.

In particular, researchers at Cambridge and Fuhan Universities analyzed data from nearly 500,000 adults aged 38 to 73 years collected from the UK Biobank, a comprehensive UK database. Subjects were asked about their sleep patterns, mental health and well-being, and took part in a series of cognitive tests. MRI scans of the brain and genetic data were available to nearly 40,000 participants.

Too little and too much sleep: impact on cognitive performance

Analyzing all this information, it turned out that both too little and too much sleep were associated with decreased cognitive performance – subjects were slower in tests, had shorter concentration and weaker problem-solving skills. Their mental health also suffered: people who slept too much or too little showed more symptoms of anxiety and depression and lower overall well-being.

Scientists suspect that disruption of slow wave sleep, which is part of deep sleep, may be a possible cause of cognitive decline. Such a disorder is associated with the accumulation of beta-amyloid particles. These protein deposits, which are found in large clusters in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, are suspected to be contributing to the death of nerve cells.

Analysis of brain scans also revealed an association between different sleep lengths and differences in the structure of brain areas involved in cognitive processing and memory. Among them was the hippocampus, which is considered the brain’s memory center.

Sleep duration may be a risk factor

Taken together, the researchers concluded that seven hours of uninterrupted sleep appear to be the most ideal for cognitive performance, overall well-being, and mental health in middle-aged and elderly people. Although the study did not describe causality, the results indicate that insufficient or excessive sleep time may be a risk factor for cognitive decline in old age.

As author Jianfeng Feng points out in his statement: “While we cannot conclusively say that too little or too much sleep causes cognitive problems, our analysis, which looks at people for extended periods of time, seems to support this view.” why older people slept less seemed to be complicated, related to the combination of genetics and brain structure.

Neuropsychologist and co-author Barbara Sahakian adds that good sleep is important at all stages of life, but especially at age: “Finding ways to improve sleep in older people can be crucial to improving their mental health and well-being, and avoid cognitive decline, especially in patients with mental disorders and dementia ”.

Older people take naps more often

In fact, according to the German Society for Sleep Research and Sleep Medicine (DGSM), elderly people in particular often report problems with sleep maintenance, shorter total sleep time, more daytime naps, and increasing use of sleeping pills. Increasingly, however, sleep problems are identified in different age groups and around the world.

In Germany alone, one-third of respondents in a 2017 Techniker-Krankenkasse survey complained about sleep problems, and one in two said they had not slept for more than six hours. According to the guidelines of the American National Sleep Foundation (NSF) for adults, it should be seven to nine hours. However, their authors emphasize that the need for sleep varies from person to person.

Leave a Comment