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Sleeping Well in Middle Age May Pay Off Later in Life

Better functioning reported decades afterward, researchers find

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Sleeping well during middle age may be an investment that leads to better mental functioning later in life, a new review finds. The findings were published in the January issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science.

“If sleep benefits memory and thinking in young adults but is changed in quantity and quality with age, then the question is whether improving sleep might delay — or reverse — age-related changes in memory and thinking,” Michael Scullin, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, said in a university news release. “It’s the difference between investing up front rather than trying to compensate later.”

Scullin and colleague Donald Bliwise, Ph.D., of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, analyzed 50 years of sleep research. “We came across studies that showed that sleeping well in middle age predicted better mental functioning 28 years later,” Scullin said. He and Bliwise defined middle age as 30 to 60 years old.

“People sometimes disparage sleep as ‘lost’ time,” Scullin noted. However, even if the link between sleep and memory weakens with age, “sleeping well still is linked to better mental health, improved cardiovascular health, and fewer, less severe disorders and diseases of many kinds,” he said.

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