While there are some people who seem to be able to get by on very little sleep, and others who simply can’t function unless they get their full eight hours, a new report reveals there really is an “ideal” amount of sleep we should be getting…at least as we get older.
A new study out of China and the United Kingdom looked at data from almost 500,000 adults ages 38 to 73 who were part of a long-term health study. What researchers found was that seven hours of sleep is ideal for middle and old age. Without it, results show folks have a decline in the ability to pay attention, remember and learn new things. The ability to solve problems and make decisions is also affected negatively.
As for benefits, seven hours of sleep is linked to better mental health. In fact, those who sleep either longer or shorter amounts of time report experiencing more anxiety and depression and worse overall well-being.
“While we can’t say conclusively that too little or too much sleep causes cognitive problems, our analysis looking at individuals over a longer period of time appears to support this idea,” Jianfeng Feng, a professor at China’s Fudan University and an author of the study shares. “But the reasons why older people have poorer sleep appear to be complex, influenced by a combination of our genetic makeup and the structure of our brains.”