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Extreme Sleep Durations Affects Brain Health In Later Life, Study Finds

Update Date: May 01, 2014 08:50 AM EDT

A new study led by Brigham and Women's hospital (BWH) has found an association between midlife and later life sleeping patterns with memory. According to the study, extreme sleep durations worsen memory in later life. 

The study found that women who slept five or fewer hours, or nine of more hours per day, either in midlife or later life had worse memory, equivalent to nearly two additional years of age, than those sleeping seven hours per day.  

Women whose sleep duration changed by more than two hours per day over time also had worse memory than women with no change in sleep duration, the study noted. 

The study is first to evaluate the associations of sleep duration at midlife and later life and change in sleep duration over time with memory.

"Given the importance of preserving memory into later life, it is critical to identify modifiable factors, such as sleeping habits, that may help achieve this goal," said lead researcher Elizabeth Devore, ScD, instructor in medicine in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH, in the press release. "Our findings suggest that getting an 'average' amount of sleep, seven hours per day, may help maintain memory in later life and that clinical interventions based on sleep therapy should be examined for the prevention of cognitive impairment."

"These findings add to our knowledge about how sleep impacts memory," added Devore. "More research is needed to confirm these findings and explore possible mechanisms underlying these associations."

The research will be published in The Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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