Invest in Sleep When Young, Reap Memory Benefit When Old: Study

Reverse the age-old saying that too much sleep by teenagers or youth is not good. Parents should now relax to see that a latest study has shown that sleeping more when young helps retain memory during the old age.

In the middle age, more sleep during the day including afternoon naps helps the memory and protects against its decline as long as their night-time sleep is not skipped, says the study.

“As people grow older, they wake up more at night and have less deep sleep and dream sleep – both of which are important for overall brain functioning,” said Michael K Scullin, director of Baylor University’s sleep neuroscience and cognition laboratory.

“It is the difference between investing up front rather than trying to compensate later,” Scullin added.

The article, published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, titled “Sleep, Cognition, and Normal Aging: Integrating a Half Century of Multidisciplinary Research” underscores the benefits of a sound night’s sleep for young adults are diverse and unmistakable.

One example is that a particular kind of “deep sleep” called “slow-(brain)-wave-sleep” helps memory by taking a day’s experiences into account and replaying them and strengthening them for better recollection.

If a person lives 85 years, he or she sleeps for 250,000 hours or more than 10,000 full days. “People sometimes disparage sleep as ‘lost’ time. But sleeping well is linked to better mental health, improved cardiovascular health and fewer, less severe disorders and diseases of many kinds,” Scullin noted.

Sleeping more in young age helps retain memory sharp in olda age, says new study.

Sleeping more in young age helps retain memory sharp in olda age, says new study.

The researchers have conducted extensive review of the data since 1967 for the study, including more than approximately 200 studies, which measured sleep and its link with the brain or neuro functioning.

While those aged 18 to 29 were categorised as young, those in the age group of 30 to 60 are categorised as middle-aged and those older than 60 as old.

Participants were questioned about the number of hours they typically slept, how long it took them to go to sleep, how often they woke up in the middle of the night and how sleepy they felt during the day.


The researchers have correlated results from the study with numerous brain-wave studies in the past and experiments dealing with sleep deprivation, napping and sleep intervention such as sleep medications.

The article has been published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

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