Advertisement

How does getting enough sleep benefit the brain?

You can make your brain as sharp as someone 4 to 7 years younger if you just get more sleep. Most Americans fall short of the recommended 6 to 8 hours. But in a study of middle-aged folks, those who consistently slept 6 to 8 hours a night scored the best on cognitive-function tests.

The Long and Short of It

In the study, people reported how many hours of sleep they got on an average weeknight. And then they did so again more than 5 years later. They also took cognitive-function tests on both occasions. And those who fell short of the recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep had the lowest scores. In fact, their scores were akin to someone many years older. But interestingly, getting too much sleep was problematic as well. Those who got more than 8 hours also had super-low scores on the cognitive-function tests. So while you're ready to get more sleep and increase your brain power, try not to be a total sleepyhead.

Sleep and Your Brain

It's not clear why too little or too much sleep affects the brain. But we do know that sleep trouble is linked to everything from depression, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Probably because sleep issues affect blood levels of a host of different hormones and chemicals in the body. And now it appears that those same changes in hormones and body chemicals increase your brain power, too.

Continue Learning about Healthy Sleeping

Do Early Birds Live Longer Than Night Owls?
Do Early Birds Live Longer Than Night Owls?
Q: I hear people who are night owls aren’t as healthy as morning people. My mom rarely went to sleep before 1AM and died at the age of 65, and I have ...
Read More
Why is sleep important for good sex?
Ian Kerner, PhDIan Kerner, PhD
Sleep is vital to the body’s functioning. Even a single restless night can raise stress levels and l...
More Answers
Does Sticking to a Sleep Schedule Really Help? I Followed One for 30 Days to Find Out
Does Sticking to a Sleep Schedule Really Help? I Followed One for 30 Days to Find OutDoes Sticking to a Sleep Schedule Really Help? I Followed One for 30 Days to Find OutDoes Sticking to a Sleep Schedule Really Help? I Followed One for 30 Days to Find OutDoes Sticking to a Sleep Schedule Really Help? I Followed One for 30 Days to Find Out
I went to bed and woke up at the same time every day; extra energy was just one of the reasons it was awesome. I’ve always had problems getting up in ...
Start Slideshow
How Can Having a Sleep Routine Help Me Sleep Better?
How Can Having a Sleep Routine Help Me Sleep Better?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.