By Bob Greene for BestLifeDiet.com
How many hours of sleep did you get last night? If you answered seven (or right around there), then you’re in great shape—seven seems to be the magic number for sleep, according to new preliminary research.
You may already know that skimping on shuteye is associated with a number of problems. Your ability to focus and your reflexes are impaired, which can lead to accidents and decreased productivity. Then, there’s a whole host of physical changes that occur when you’re sleep deprived. For instance, your metabolism slows down and your body pumps out more ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and less leptin, the hormone that signals fullness, putting you at an increased risk for obesity and diabetes.
That’s enough to make you want to pull the covers over your head! But researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that too much sleep is not good for you either. In fact, it seems to impair memory and brain function.
Using data collected from 120,000 nurses who are part of the Nurse’s Health Study, the researchers found that those who logged less than five or more than nine hours of slumber per night scored lower on cognitive tests than those who slept around seven. (They presented their findings at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.) That means that logging the right amount of sleep may help keep your brain sharp and potentially protect against dementia as you get older.
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When it comes to improving your memory, experts say it’s all about rest.
A new study from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, suggests that taking breaks is more effective for boosting memory than other traditional methods like caffeine and mental exercises.
As reported by CNN, researchers gathered a small group of “normally aging” elderly men and women, and asked them to recount as many details from two stories as they could.
Following the first story, participants were asked to relax and close their eyes in a dark room for 10 minutes. Researchers then asked participants to point out the differences in several pairs of near identical images.
Researchers found that overall, participants recounted far more details after they had rested; and that their memory boost held up even a full week after the initial trial.
Previous research has showed that small periods of rest – even a few minutes – are beneficial to both memory and alertness. But this new study points to the effectiveness of short periods of rest for “long-term memory consolidation.”
Research fellow and lead study author, Michaela Dewar, points out that when we first encounter new information, we’re likely in an early stage of memory formation. “Further neural processes have to occur after this stage for us to be able to remember this information at a later point in time,” she said.
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Getting our kids to bed can be one of the biggest battles of parenthood. The issue starts from day one and really never ends until they’re adults. An interesting new study shows why some small children may not be getting the amount sleep they need for optimum health. The culprit may be in the form of a masked hero.
Katie Moisse reported for ABC News concerning a sleep-related study that was published in the journal Pediatrics. The study revealed that among the 565 preschool-age children whose sleep habits were monitored, those who were only allowed to watch age-appropriate educational television were less likely to have sleep issues than those who were allowed to watch programs with fighting superheroes or other rambunctious scenes intended for an older audience.
Moisse interviewed the author of the study, Michelle Garrison from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Garrison explained theories about these findings, one major hypothesis being that children exposed to less violence may suffer fewer nightmares and find it easier to fall asleep.
Previous studies back up Garrison and her team’s theories, as there have been numerous links to violence and poor sleep patterns in the past. Poor sleep can also raise a child’s risk of behavioral and emotional problems.
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Sleep has remained the focus of numerous studies recently, including a new report from the University of California, San Francisco that suggests a lack of sleep may reduce the efficacy of vaccines.
As reported by TIME, authors of the study claim this is the first “real-world” look at the connection between the amount of sleep we get and our immune response to vaccines.
The study took place outside of a traditional lab setting and instead tracked participants in their ‘day-to-day’ sleep patterns outside of a controlled environment. Participants were middle-aged and researchers studied how their bodies reacted to a ‘standard three-dose hepatitis B’ vaccine.
Findings revealed that those who got less than six hours of sleep a night on average fared much worse than those who slept more when it came to antibody response. In fact, they were found 11.5 times more likely to be unprotected by an immunization.
Lead author Dr. Aric Prather pointed out that this study shows concrete evidence of a connection between inadequate sleep and being more prone to infectious disease.
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If you’ve ever thought working the graveyard shift sounded like the least appetizing schedule imaginable, you’re not alone. I for one would much rather wake up at 6 a.m. and work until 3 if it meant I could have my precious evening hours to myself.
Now there’s more reason to loathe the night shift: it’s been linked to higher risk of heart attack, stroke, early aging and other serious health conditions, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
In the largest study of its kind, researchers collected data from 34 previous studies on the topic of work shift and heart health. From a combined total of 2 million participants worldwide, researchers gathered that atypical shift workers are at a 23 percent greater risk of heart attacks, 5 percent greater risk of stroke,and 24 percent greater risk of all coronary events than their 9-5 Monday-Friday counterparts. These workers also saw higher death rates overall.
Researchers considered those who worked any shift outside of ‘normal daytime hours,’ including evening, night and extremely early morning shifts, as well as split shifts, on call hours and other atypical working hours.
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