Researchers have established seven hours good quality sleep per night result in the highest score for every cognitive measure and are fundamental to human functioning and well-being. Sleeping for less than 6 hours or more than 8 is associated with lower scores. The amount of sleep can impact on mental health later in life. Added attention is being paid to the harmful effects of too much or too little sleep.
Lack of sleep can have adverse effects on concentration, performance and response times with Researchers warning that deterioration of brain function could also initiate physical decline and premature death. Sleeping less than the recommended 7 hours increases cognitive deterioration with vocabulary and reasoning abilities being affected
In the six standard tests, done by scientists of the University of London, measuring vocabulary, memory, phonemic fluency, reasoning and global cognitive status, the results showed how changes in sleep pattern over a period of five years affected cognitive function in later life.
Researchers have warned that sleeping less than six hours or for those who sleep more than eight hours can disrupt how we think and can age the brain by almost seven years. Almost 8% of those who slept for longer periods than the recommended number of hours showed poor performance in all the cognitive tests with the exception of the short-term verbal memory.
Senior Researcher, Jane Ferrie confirmed that the outcome of all their research is that any changes in the length of sleep times seem to be linked to less perception performances in the latter part of middle age. The study shows that 25% of women and almost 20% of men who slept less suffered a decrease in their capacity for reasoning and vocabulary.
She went on to say that our hectic way of life progressively impinges on the lives of many people and it is important to bear in mind what effect changes in the length of our sleep times may have on our health and well-being in the long term.