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Finding sleep ‘sweet spot’ key to protecting aging brain

A new study published in the journal JAMA Neurology suggests that the length of sleep time of adults could play a major role in their brain health, including the prevention of early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

It is well proved among sleep scientists that poor sleep quality is common among older adults and can lead to changes in cognitive function, including a person’s ability to properly think, reason, problem-solve and make decisions, as well as their memory and attention span.

Researchers used this basis as the jumping-off point for their own study to investigate associations between sleep duration, lifestyle choices, cognitive function and levels of beta amyloid, a protein found in the brain during normal brain cell activity, according to CNN.

The study found that individuals who reported short sleep duration — defined as six hours or less by researchers — had increased levels of beta amyloid, which “greatly increases” a person’s risk for dementia, said Joe Winer, the study’s lead author, from Stanford University.

Additionally, older adults with poor sleep quality did not perform as well on cognitive tests as similarly aged adults with better sleep quality.

“The main takeaway is that it is important to maintain healthy sleep late in life,” Winer said. “Additionally, both people who get too little sleep and people who get too much sleep had higher (body-mass index and) more depressive symptoms.”

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