Investing in Sleep While You're Young Helps Cognition in Old Age

Americans aren't getting enough sleep for a multitude of reasons. But a new study shows that we should really be making time for sleep during our younger and middle-age years if we want to retain our minds as we get older.

Americans don't get enough sleep for many reasons that range from tablet use before bed to working long hours at a job. But a new study shows that we should really be making time for sleep during our younger and middle-age years if we want to retain our minds as we get older.


Erin Blakemore from the Smithsonian wrote on the study that was led by Michael K. Scullin, a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, who poured over 50 years of sleep-related research with the help of a team of scientists. The research was published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, which includes data from 200 separate studies that date as far back as 1967.

This data provided Scullin and his team evidence that showed there's a close link to cognition and the amount of sleep older participants got in their youth and middling years. The team wrote in their assessment:

“We interpret the literature as suggesting that maintaining good sleep quality, at least in young adulthood and middle age, promotes better cognitive functioning and serves to protect against age-related cognitive declines.”

Younger folks often correlate sleep with time better spent studying or going out--the usual saying, “I'll sleep when I'm dead,” comes to mind. But Scullin's data shows that this thought could lead to poor memory recall later on in life. He stated in a press release:

“People sometimes disparage sleep as ‘lost’ time. Sleeping well still is linked to better mental health, improved cardiovascular health and fewer, less severe disorders and diseases of many kinds.” 

Read more at Smithsonian 

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn/ Flickr

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