The majority of us don’t need to conduct a scientific study to know that getting too little sleep is bad for day-to-day cognitive functioning. Without the right amount of sleep, individuals will be far less alert, feel far more irritable and will be at far greater risk of physical health problems in the short-term. However, until very recently, the long-term effects of getting too little sleep were not all that well documented, but one recent study has given us a much better understanding of what happens to the brain over many years when adults do not get the right amount of sleep.
And the findings will be a wake-up call for those who burn the candle at both ends or simply do not look at ways to cure their insomnia.
Not only will getting less sleep lead to general cognitive decline, but researchers have also found that the brain will actually shrink far quicker as humans age if they do not get enough sleep. In turn, whilst not sleeping well can make us a little forgetful in the short-term and leave us feeling far from our usual selves, in the long-term it could also significantly increase the chances of dementia developing amongst older individuals.
The research, carried out in China, followed over 60 adults every two years, recording information about sleep duration before using MRI scans to measure brain volume and utilising neuropsychological assessments to test cognitive functioning. The results showed that those who slept poorly saw a much more significant decline in cognitive functioning over the years, and scientists are confident that these results will be very important in helping them find ways to halt the rise of dementia in our aging population.
The right amount of sleep
Whilst this study did not look to establish an optimum amount of sleep for adults, other research has suggested that seven hours a night is just the right amount to stave off lethargy and keep cognitive functions strong. Of course, quality of sleep is also important, and therefore those getting seven hours of broken sleep may well be affected in much the same way as those who are getting far fewer hours in total.
Scientists are also keen to point out that too much sleep can be as bad for adults as too little, and therefore striving for that optimum of seven hours will be the best way to keep the body and mind as healthy as possible. As a rule, it is thought that anything less that six hours or more than eight is likely to lead to cognitive impairment.
Here at Adjustamatic Beds, we fully understand the importance of a good night’s sleep, especially for those in their later years. Getting the right amount of sleep as one gets older will help to halt mental decline and even slow the development of dementia. Furthermore, not only will the brain be kept healthy by optimising one’s ability to get quality rest, but the chances of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke will all be significantly reduced too.
For those who struggle to sleep as deeply or as comfortably as they should on a nightly basis, an adjustable bed may well be the answer, and not only might such a solution help individuals to more easily get in and out of bed, and ensure that physical pain is reduced during the night, but it seems that the right bed and in turn the right amount of sleep may also help individuals stave off mental decline in the process.