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Studies find that sleep may keep seniors sharp

May 8, 2014

Some of the most important factors that may help lead to a healthy lifestyle for seniors include exercise, proper diet and - according to a couple of new studies - a good night's sleep. Not only can proper sleeping patterns lead to healthy aging, but they may be able to drastically improve memory and overall cognitive functioning in older adults. 

Study reveals two largest factors for healthy sleep
Boston-based Brigham and Women's Hospital recently published findings in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that indicated the importance of a full night's sleep for senior health. Researchers observed how sleeping habits affected overall cognition among a group of older adults. They found that people who slept fewer than five hours or more than nine hours each night had poorer memories than those who slept seven hours. Elizabeth Devore, the lead author of the study, explained that the results may be key for providing better memory care for seniors in the future.

"Our findings suggest that getting an 'average' amount of sleep, seven hours per day, may help maintain memory in later life and that clinical interventions based on sleep therapy should be examined for the prevention of cognitive impairment," Devore said.

Additionally, scientists found that consistent sleep patterns were equally important for health, adding that those whose sleep cycles differed by two hours each day exhibited similar memory lapses.

Spanish study finds similar results
Another study conducted by researchers from the CEU Cardenal Herrera University in Spain found that older adults who slept less than six hours or more than eight hours may have a higher risk of suffering from cognitive impairments than those who slept seven hours. The study noted that adults over the age of 65 who did not receive the proper amounts of sleep were 2.6 percent more likely to develop these conditions than those who did.