The world’s largest sleep study to date has something for just about everyone who has wondered about how much sleep to get — or not.
The University of Western Ontario is compiling the results from its recent sleep study — and preliminary findings reveal that seven to eight hours of sleep each night is ideal.
Although this isn’t earth-shattering news, the relationship between the “perfect” amount of sleep and the brain’s cognitive function is a groundbreaking discovery.
Subjects experienced improved cognitive function, as opposed to those who slept less or more than the precise amount. The neuroscientists from Western University’s Brain and Mind Institute released their findings on Thursday in the high-impact journal, Sleep.
Launched in June 2017, the study included over 40,000 people from around the world. The investigation integrated an in-depth questionnaire and a series of cognitive performance activities. The survey asked questions about age, medications, geographic location, and education.
A typical laboratory sleep study wasn’t included in order to compile these results. “We wanted to find out what sleep is like in the real world,” Adrian Owen, Western’s lead researcher in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging, told Science Daily.
Approximately half of the subjects reported sleeping less than 6.3 hours per night, about an hour less than the study’s recommended amount.
This sleep differential revealed that participants who slept four hours or less performed as if they were almost nine years older. This astounding revelation could have an impact on any number of medical conditions — in addition to people’s daily performance at work.
Researchers also uncovered that sleep has no prejudice. Sleeping the recommended seven to eight hours rewarded all subjects with a high functional cognitive ability, regardless of age. Additionally, too much or too little sleep had an equal impairment on the study participants, regardless of age as well.
“We found that the optimum amount of sleep to keep your brain performing its best is 7 to 8 hours every night, and that corresponds to what the doctors will tell you need to keep your body in tiptop shape, as well. We also found that people who slept more than that amount were equally impaired as those who slept too little,” said Conor Wild, Owen’s lab research associate and the study’s lead author.
Reasoning and verbal abilities were most strongly affected by sleep. Comparatively, sleep deprivation can affect short-term memory, other sleep …