Why too little sleep now could affect you later - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Why too little sleep now could affect you later

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Sleep is a problem for many people, especially as they get older.

"I probably get around average around seven," Mina Putman said. "I feel like I could use another hour probably."

"I'm lucky if I can get four or five," Claire Heimler said.

A new study from the Alzheimer's Association finds not getting the right amount of sleep could affect your mind later in life. Researchers looked at 15,000 women over the age of 70 and found those who slept too little or too much had worse cognitive function as they aged.

"On the short end women were sleeping five or less hours and on the long end women were sleeping nine or more hours," said Dr. Elizabeth Devore of Brigham and Women's Hospital, one of the study's authors.

Researchers performed a number of memory tests on the women in the study over six years. They found too little or too much sleep was cognitively equivalent to aging a year and a half.

With an estimated 16 million Americans expected to have Alzheimer's by 2050, the findings could have big implications.

"We may need to start looking in the future at sleep and circadian-based strategies for potentially reducing cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease," Devore said.

As people age, they tend to sleep less. And the sleep they do get tends to get fragmented. Researchers say seven hours seems to be ideal.

"I've been blessed that I sleep well and I don't have a problem with it," Paulette Spielvogel said. "But definitely seven hours is my new target."

It's certainly something to sleep on.

Researchers also found the change in the amount of time women slept was just as important as how long they slept. Women whose sleep changed at least two hours per day from the beginning of the study to the end, performed worse on cognitive tests than those with no change in their sleep duration.

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