lifestyle

Finding your sleep ‘sweet spot’ can help your brain health


You need to be sleeping for more than five and a half hours most nights (Picture: Getty)

We all know sleep is good for the brain and that six to eight hours is generally what’s advised for adults.

But there’s more to gain from finding your own personal slumber ‘sweet spot’, a study published in Brain Journal has shown.

The optimum amount of sleep still hovers around the magic six to eight hours, but the study has proven getting a high quality level of sleep can be more important in delaying cognitive decline than the number of hours we get.

Sleeping less than five and a half hours can contribute to poorer cognitive performance, as it was found.

Surprisingly, the same goes for people on the other end of the spectrum – those who went beyond seven and a half hours also suffered.

Study coauthor Dr. Brendan Lucey said: ‘Our study suggests that there is a middle range, or “sweet spot”, for total sleep time where cognitive performance was stable over time.’

He continued: ‘Not only those with short amounts of sleep but also those with long amounts of sleep had more cognitive decline.

‘It suggests that sleep quality may be key, as opposed to simply total sleep.’

Looking at the sleep of 100 older adults who have evidence of early Alzheimer’s disease revealed the link between sleep and cognitive function.

Rather than focus solely on the hours, the quality of the time spent resting is key.

The ‘sweet spot’ is found in sleeping through all stages of the sleep cycle undisturbed four to six times over – so if you’re waking up across the night, it’s unlikely you’re hitting that desired point.

Each cycle lasts for roughly 90 minutes, totting up to several hours of continuous sleep.

So it’s about more than just feeling more awake and focused during the day – poor sleep can impact upon the health of your brain too.

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