The importance of optimal sleep in terms of health and quality of life cannot be overstated. Inadequate sleep has been consistently linked to a growing list of modern day ills including weight gain, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, emotional disorders and metabolic syndrome. According to a new study, it appears to be a major “brain drain” too. Researchers gave a battery of cognitive (brain) function tests to over 5000 middle age adults who had their sleep patterns monitored over the preceding 5 years. Those reporting a decrease in sleep duration over the 5 year period to less than 7 hours of sleep a night scored lower on the brain function tests. Researchers equated the magnitude of mental decline as equivalent to 4-7 years of brain aging vs. those who maintained optimal sleep patterns. (Sleep, May 2011)
Based on the latest info from the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans gets less than 7 hours of sleep a night. For optimal health and brain power, adults should strive for 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night.
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