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Too much … or too little sleep can be bad for your brain

Too much … or too little sleep can be bad for your brain

Too much … or too little sleep can be bad for your brain

Preliminary results from the world’s largest sleep study have shown that people who sleep on average between 7 to 8 hours per night performed better cognitively than those who slept less, or more, than this amount.

Neuroscientists from Western University’s Brain and Mind Institute found approximately half of all participants reported typically sleeping less than 6.3 hours per night, about an hour less than the study’s recommended amount. One surprising observation was that most participants who slept four hours or less performed as if they were almost nine years older.

Another surprising discovery was that sleep affected all adults equally. The amount of sleep associated with highly functional cognitive behaviour was the same for everyone (7 to 8 hours), regardless of age. Also, the impairment associated with too little, or too much, sleep did not depend on the age of the participants.

“We found that the optimum amount of sleep to keep your brain performing its best is 7 to 8 hours every night and that corresponds to what the doctors will tell you need to keep your body in tip-top shape, as well. We also found that people that slept more than that amount were equally impaired as those who slept too little,” says Conor Wild, Owen Lab Research Associate and the study’s lead author.

Losing just a couple hours of sleep at night also makes you angry, especially in frustrating situations, according to research by Iowa State University.

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, try listening to some Ed Sheeran. A study out of the University of Sheffield says 62 per cent of people listen to music to fall asleep – and the ginger singer-songwriter is the perfect choice. 

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