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Eight Hours of Sleep May Not Be The Right Number After All
An article published by AARP (Donna Fuscaldo, AARP, May 11, 2022) found that too little or too much sleep hurt cognitive performance including processing speed, visual attention, memory, and problem-solving.
In a 2016 study available in the journal Nature Aging, a panel of experts with AARP’s Global Council on Brain Health said that sleep is vital to brain health. But what is the right number of hours to sleep?
Researchers found that seven hours of sleep improved cognitive performance and mental health. More than or less than that amount may prevent the brain from unloading toxins, hurting cerebral performance, and ultimately become a risk factor for intellectual decline later in life.
How to get a better night’s sleep
• Create a sleep schedule. It’s hard for your body to get into a sleep routine if you go to sleep and wake up at different times every day. Putting yourself to sleep on a schedule will get your body and brain accustomed to going to sleep and waking up at the same time.
• Don’t nap too much. Taking a nap during the day is enticing, but if you sleep too long it could disrupt your sleep patterns at bedtime. According to the Sleep Foundation, the best time to nap is right after lunch, in the early afternoon. Naps should last only around 20 minutes.
• Create a calming bedtime environment. Tossing and turning at night can be avoided if you create a calm environment before going to sleep. That means engaging in some quiet activity such as reading a book, listening to soft music, or stretching 30 minutes prior to bedtime. Stay away from bright lights and disconnect from smartphones, laptops, and tablets that will keep your brain awake.
• Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake near bedtime. Sound slumber will be hard to come by if you are hyped up on caffeine or have a cocktail right before bedtime. That’s why experts say to avoid caffeine late in the day and alcohol right before you hit the sheets.
Donna Fuscaldo is a contributing writer and editor focusing on personal finance and health. She has spent over two decades writing and covering news for several national outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investopedia, and HerMoney.
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