Health Discoveries in General Health News

Sleeping six to eight hours nightly is best for brain function

May 3, 2011
Researchers at the University College London Medical School have determined that middle-aged adults who sleep six to eight hours each night will have better brain function.

Too little sleep has been shown to affect an individual's heart health as well. "Sleep provides the body with its daily need for physiological restitution and recovery," said Jane Ferrie, a senior research fellow at the university's epidemiology and public health department. "Chronic short sleep produces hormones and chemicals in the body which increase the risk of developing heart disease and strokes, and other conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and obesity."

Published in the May issue of Sleep, the study reviewed data on the the sleep habits of 5,431 people, aged 35 to 55. They were surveyed at intervals during a 20-year period and tested on memory, reasoning, vocabulary, global cognitive status and verbal fluency.

Tests showed lower scores for those who sleep less than six hours or more than eight hours, except in the area of short-term verbal memory.

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, a clinical trial is under way that focuses on ways to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a complex sleep disorder in which a blockage occurs in the airway during sleep and temporarily causes an individual to stop breathing.
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