Sleeping regularly and sleeping well has lasting impacts on memory and cognitive function. A new study from Baylor University reviewed research on sleep and cognition from the last 50 years. The research revealed that sleep during young adulthood and middle age can be an investment for future well-being. The findings emphasize the importance of sleep throughout one’s life.
The researchers began by asking whether improving sleep can delay or reverse age-related change in memory and cognition. To find out, they reviewed approximately 200 studies, some conducted as long ago as 1967. In the studies, participants reported the number of hours they slept, how long it took them to fall asleep, how frequently they woke up at night, and how sleepy they felt during the day. The researchers categorized participants as young (ages 18 to 29), middle aged (ages 30 to 60), or old (ages 60 and over). Then, they analyzed the data and correlated results from brain-wave studies dealing with sleep.
Sleeping well has diverse benefits that manifest throughout one’s lifetime. For young and middle aged adults, sleeping well can be an investment for later life. Studies demonstrate that sleeping well in middle age predicts better cognitive functioning nearly 30 years later. The results also showed that sleeping more during the day can, for middle aged adults, help protect cognitive functions against age-related decline.
The study is part of the expanding body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of a good night’s sleep. The earlier that an individual established good sleep habits, the better that individual’s chances are of maintaining a high level of cognitive functioning as he or she ages.
“People sometimes disparage sleep as ‘lost time,” states study author Michael K. Scullin, PhD. and director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory. However, “Sleeping well still is linked to better mental health, improved cardiovascular health and fewer, less severe disorders and diseases of many kinds.”
This research is published in Perspectives on Psychological Science.
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