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Research Ties Sleeping Habits And Lack Of Stimulation To Cognitive Impairment

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If you’re concerned about staying mentally sharp through your golden years, odds are you’re probably doing what you should to keep your brain in shape. This means taking a fish oil supplement, exercising to get the blood flowing to the noggin and eating healthy foods full of vitamins, minerals and good fats.

However, it’s important to remember that the brain can be like a muscle, and all muscles need rest. According to a team of scientists from Spain, you have to make sure that your brain is not getting too much nor too little sleep.

Sleep and reading can both be helpful

The authors of the new study wanted to investigate the impact of different factors on cognitive impairment. The Alzheimer’s Association describes cognitive impairment as a sort of precursor to dementia; it’s characterized by trouble with various thought processes, such as recalling memories of facts or making sound judgments.

For their research, the scientists examined 245 individuals who were at least 65 years of age. They collected information on the study subjects’ genetic backgrounds, sleeping patterns, exercise routines and mental stimulation habits.

Results showed that regularly sleeping more than eight hours or fewer than 6 hours increased the likelihood that an individual had cognitive impairment by a factor of 2.6, suggesting that chronic insomnia or daytime sleepiness may be risk factors for neurological problems. Additionally, those who didn’t read at all or only read occasionally were 3.7 times and 2.5 times more at risk of cognitive impairment, compared to those who read more often.

While sleep and mental stimulation are factors that people can easily control, aging isn’t. The researchers also calculated that the risk of developing cognitive impairment doubles for patients every 10 years. This underscores the importance of both good sleeping habits and regular mental stimulation.

The study authors noted that 35.6 million people in the world are currently living with dementia. Without better ways of addressing these problems, that figure will reach 100 million people by the year 2050.

To help fight off cognitive impairment, the Alzheimer’s Association pointed out that the brain can benefit from the same regimens that are used to bolster heart health because they help increase blood flow to the brain. This means that turning to omega-3 supplements is a worthwhile investment that will pay off in your golden years.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease