We are all familiar with the unpleasant effects of sleep-deprivation: fatigue, lack of energy, inattention, and irritability. Most of us should really get more sleep—it would make us feel and perform much better and can even help us lose weight. But did you know that it’s also possible to get too much sleep?
It turns out sleep is sort of like Goldilocks—you don’t want too little, and you don’t want too much.
What number is just right? The answer is really a range: somewhere between 6-8 hours. Any more or less than that may do more than just make you sleepy—it may cause your brain to age prematurely.
According to this study, both men and women who averaged 7 hours of sleep performed better on reasoning tests than both people who slept fewer than 6 hours, as well as people who slept more than 8. Most interesting, the researchers involved think that the findings show that consistent sleep routines that include sleeping for around 7 hours a night every night can help reduce the regular cognitive decline that happens to all of us as we get older:
- The study tracked men and women over five years and consistently asked them to perform memory, vocabulary, and logic tests.
- The study showed that people who got too little or too much sleep showed a loss in brain function that was like aging 4 to 7 years!
- People tend to sleep less when they age, so maintaining between 6-8 hours of sleep a night may be a great natural way to prevent some of that natural memory loss that occurs with aging.
You might be surprised by the fact that too much sleep could be bad for you, and you wouldn’t be alone—the researchers in the study were surprised as well. They think it may be that these people aren’t actually sleeping more than 8 hours—they may be lying in bed battling insomnia, or they may be getting poor quality sleep. Being in bed doesn’t count—you need around 7 hours of quality sleep in order to function at your best and keep your brain young.
Beauty sleep, for your body and your brain.
Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor™
Everything you do, you do better with a good night’s sleep™