Study finds ‘sweet spot’ of sleep needed to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

According to a new study, published by the journal JAMA Neurology, sleeping too little or too much every night can be harmful to adults’ brain performance, increase depression symptoms and weight, and raise the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. 

The study found that sleeping less than 6 hours or more than 9 hours per night has various negative impacts on adults’ health. “Sleeping duration of 6 hours or less or 9 hours or more was associated with distinct deficits in cognitive performance as well as greater depressive symptoms, body mass index, and daytime napping,” reads the study.

Dr. Jennifer Ashton, who was not involved in the study, is an ABC News chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OBGYN. She said, “People who got less than six hours of sleep on PET scan brain imaging had a higher rate of these brain plaques that we’ve found in association with Alzheimer’s disease.”

“However, too much, just as bad. Nine or more hours associated with poor cognitive performance.” Ashton continued, “This really speaks to the fact that more is not better. Your brain needs a certain amount of sleep, but too much actually kind of puts your brain to sleep in some ways.”

The study concluded that the ideal amount of sleep per night is seven to eight hours. Ashton also noted that not getting a proper amount of sleep each night affects your immune system and has been linked to other issues such as an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. “I always say sleep has a [public relations] problem. We look at it like a luxury. In fact, it is a medical necessity. We need to prioritize this on par with our nutrition and our fitness for optimum health,” said Ashton.

Another study published earlier this year in the journal Nature Communications was reinforced by the JAMA Neurology findings. The previous study found that specifically, among those participants who were consistently getting less than six hours per night, the rate of dementia increased by 30 percent.

The researchers wrote, “Measurement of sleep duration at age 50, 60, and 70 years along with change in sleep duration over this period provides consistent results for increased risk of dementia in those with short sleep.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that infants and toddlers get between 11 and 16 hours of sleep per night, teenagers should get 8 to 10 hours, and adults should get no less than 7 hours. In order to achieve better quality sleep, Dr. Ashton recommends keeping a consistent routine, ensuring the area where you sleep is quiet, dark, and cold, and leaving anything with a screen, such as cellphones and televisions, out of the bedroom (GMA).


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