A startling new study reveals that less sleep can, over time, cause the brain to shrink and ultimately speed up its aging process.
Researchers at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore studied 66 older Chinese people over a period of time, having them complete sleep surveys and performing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans on them. The results of the study found that adults who slept fewer hours showed a decline in cognitive abilities and a smaller brain size overall. The study also found that the “sweet spot” for adults is seven hours of sleep rather than eight as many people believe.
“Our findings relate short sleep to a marker of brain aging,” the study’s lead author Dr. June Lo said.
“Work done elsewhere suggests that seven hours a day for adults seems to be the sweet spot for optimal performance on computer based cognitive tests,” Professor Michael Chee added. “In coming years we hope to determine what's good for cardio-metabolic and long term brain health too.”
A different study published this week by researchers at the University of Warwick also found that too much sleep can have the same effect as not getting enough sleep.
“Six to eight hours of sleep per night is particularly important for optimum brain function in younger adults,” University of Warwick researcher Dr. Michelle Miller said. “These results are consistent with our previous research, which showed six to eight hours per night was optimal for physical health, including lowest risk of developing obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.”
The results of both studies are undeniably eye-opening, and as many people struggle with sleep issues, it’s good to know exactly how too much or too little rest affects the human body.