HOW MUCH SLEEP DO YOU REALLY NEED?
Students who stay up late perform worse at school the next day: I have previously written about the influence of sleep on the human brain. A lack of sleep can cause you to mix together different memories which do not occur together. In young adults, sleep also affects the ability to learn new procedures. The benefits of sleep naturally lead to speculation that sleep can help older adults prevent the cognitive decline that aging brings. It has been observed that older adults who suffer from insomnia fall faster than those who do not. Another possibility is that a regular sleep during the life associated with fewer problems.
A paper published by Michael Scullin and Donald Bliwise in the January 2015 issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science tried to find out what is going on. They conducted a massive meta-analysis. (A meta-analysis overlooks the many published studies in a field of inquiry to investigate what really seems to be happening in an area.)
There are many ways to sleep and study their impact on thinking and aging. Some studies make use of self-reports of the quality of sleep and measurement of the cognitive performance. Some of these self-report studies looking at people of different ages. They investigate the relationship between the quality of sleep people get at a point in time and their performance later on.
Other studies use different measures of sleep. Some make use of an actigraphy device with the name, which measures whether the person is moving. (The Fitbit is a kind of actigraph.) For long periods without movement signals are good (but not perfect) when a person sleeps. Still other studies have measured physiological aspects such as brain waves so that it is possible to tell the level people sleep and what sleep phase they are in. Finally, there are experimental manipulations sleep, such as sleep deprivation studies and some other forms of studies.
There are many interesting findings in this paper, and it’s worth giving consideration in order to be adept with how sleep affects our thinking capabilities.
Here are a few highlights:
First, to improve the relationship between sleep and thinking, as our thought earlier in life appears stronger and later becomes weaker. A goo
d night’s sleep helps young adults learn better the next day. Sleep also helps to consolidate young adults (or fixed) memories of the day more than it helps older adults. Middle-aged adult shows smaller effects of sleep and learning, and older adults have almost no relationship between sleep and learning at all.
Sleep deprivation studies has the same implication. This study (sleep deprivation) ensnares and retards our Intelligence quotient generally, but its effect is stronger in younger adults and far worse in seniors.
Of course, some of the problems with the study of sleep in older adults are that older people generally need less sleep compared to younger adults and older adults who get the most sleep are the sick ones or those having one challenges or another. However, these results suggest that the amount of sleep that older adults get at that stage of life is not a cause of cognitive decline.
A point of focus is the fact that the amount of sleep one gets in the middle age affects his or her cognitive health in old age. The longitudinal studies are particularly useful for this work. As adults get regular sleep of about 8 hours in their 40s and 50s, they show fewer signs of cognitive problems, such as senile dementia as they get older.
Putting all this together, it seems that sleep is very important for the current cognitive performance in younger people, and that sleep helps cut down brainstorming as we get older. Sleeping in middle-aged adults is still important, however, because a good sleep habits in middle age are associated with better mental health in later life.