December 9, 2023

Physical activity at any age has wide-ranging health benefits. However, if you’re sleep deprived in middle age, exercise may not be enough to offset cognitive decline.

Active adults in their 50s and 60s who sleep less than six hours a night show cognitive impairments in learning, attention and memory that are significantly worse than those who are active, a new study from University College London (UCL) has found. as serious as people. Who has a more sedentary lifestyle.

The researchers looked at data from the UK Longitudinal Study of Aging, which included nearly 9,000 people aged 50 and over. Their cognitive abilities were assessed by tests of memory and verbal fluency over a 10-year period.

“Our study suggests that we may need to get enough sleep to reap the full cognitive benefits of physical activity,” said lead author Dr Mikayla Bloomberg, from UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology and Healthcare. Shows how important it is to consider both sleep and physical activity when thinking about cognitive health.

“Previous studies looking at how sleep and physical activity combine to affect cognitive function have been largely cross-sectional – focusing only on snapshots in time – and we were surprised to find that regular physical activity may not always be sufficient to counteract the long-term effects of sleep deprivation impact on cognitive health.”

seen before UCL The effects of sleep deprivation and cognitive decline, the quality and quantity of sleep are also associated with a higher risk of dementia. But little is known about how sleep deprivation affects brain-healthy exercise.

At the start of the study, physical activity was associated with better cognitive function regardless of sleep duration. However, people who slept less but were still very active performed worse on cognitive tests over time.

However, it’s not all bad news. Poor sleep affects people in their 50s and 60s the most, according to the decade-long study. After the age of 70, the benefits of exercise became apparent, and although this group reported getting less sleep, exercise helped maintain brain health.

Study co-author Andrew Steptoe, a professor at Harvard University, said: “Identifying factors that protect cognitive function in middle and late life is important because they can prolong our years of cognitive health, and for some people It can also delay the diagnosis of dementia, said the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, University College London.

World Health Organization Physical activity has been identified as a way to maintain cognitive function, but interventions should also consider sleep habits to maximize long-term benefits for cognitive health. “

The study was published in the journal Lancet Health and Longevity.

source: University College London