Poor Sleep Might Make Aging Rougher on Your Brain

Burning the midnight oil again? Well, here’s the thing: you might actually be mortgaging your future.

That torturously mixed metaphor comes courtesy of my poor sleep, which a new study in PLOS One suggests may cause problems with dementia down the road. The many negative results of poor sleep are well documented (examples: anxiety, brain toxins, erectile dysfunction), but a new one may not manifest for some time.

Researchers analyzed data from 3,968 men and 4,821 women who took part it in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. For a portion of the study, respondents reported on the quality and quantity fo their sleep for a month. For adults between fifty and sixty-four, short sleep (fewer than six hours) and long sleep (longer than eight hours) were associated with lower brain function scores. However, in older adults (sixty-five to eighty-nine), only long sleepers were associated with lower brain function scores.

According to Professor Francesco Cappuccio, one of the study’s co-authors,

“Sleep is important for good health and mental wellbeing. Optimizing sleep at an older age may help to delay the decline in brain function seen with age, or indeed may slow or prevent the rapid decline that leads to dementia.”

Worried about your sleep quality? Either take matters into your own hands, or see a doctor. Seriously. It’s as bad as binge drinking.

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