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Too Little Sleep Associated With Higher Risk of Cognitive Decline

Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning, and lack of sleep can impair attention, concentration and problem solving. According to a recent study, the consequences may be even more serious for mature adults. The study found that sleeping less is correlated with faster brain aging in mature adults.

Participants in the study included 66 Chinese adults aged 55 or older. The researchers performed MRIs and neuropsychological assessments on the participants every two years. They also recorded sleep duration through the use of a questionnaire.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that short sleep duration was associated with a higher level of age-related brain atrophy and cognitive decline.

Researchers from Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore conducted the study. It was published on July 1, 2014, in the journal SLEEP.

Getting a good night’s sleep may not be the only way to help prevent the onset of cognitive decline. Previous studies have suggested that regular exercise may increase the brain’s ability to protect itself during aging

Additionally, lifestyle factors play an important role in the risk of cognitive decline. Here are some small lifestyle changes that may make a big difference:

• Eating a brain-healthy diet that includes foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

• Keeping your mind active by attending social events or solving puzzles.

• Sleeping regularly and restfully

• Learning to relax

• Doing moderate intensity exercises such as walking or yoga 3 times a week

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