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Improve Your Cognitive Function with More ZZZs

Improve Your Cognitive Function with More ZZZs

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. (Related: Use this daily to-do list to help yourself grow younger every day.)

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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