Sleep dysfunction may speed up aging process

Changes in sleep patterns during late middle age may have a significant detrimental effect on cognition and memory, according to researchers at University College London’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.

A study in which the sleep patterns of more than 5,400 participants was analyzed revealed that getting more or less nightly rest than the recommended six to eight hours is associated with poor scores on cognitive tests years after the change occurs.

The researchers found that women who attained about seven hours of sleep each night had the sharpest minds, while men scored equally well whether they slept six, seven or eight hours.

Study authors said that the cognitive decline experienced by participants whose sleep patterns had changed was equivalent to four to seven years of aging.

“Given that our 24/7 society increasingly impinges on the lives of many people, it is important to consider what effects changes in sleep duration may have on health and well-being in the long term,” said lead author Jane Ferrie.

Results of this study suggest that sleep deprivation or overload can not only lead to stress, but may dull the minds of workers.

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