Older adults’ brains boosted by more, not better, sleep | Science News

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Older adults’ brains boosted by more, not better, sleep

Study finds uninterrupted rest matters more for younger folks

7:05pm, February 21, 2010

SAN DIEGO — Quantity, not quality, of sleep may determine how well older people’s brains function the next day, research reported February 21 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science suggests. For youngsters, though, quality may be more important. The study shows that sleep affects young and old brains differently, and may ultimately lead to new ways to offset age-related cognitive decline.

The link between sleep and learning has been well-established, comments Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s critical to sleep before learning. Sleep almost prepares the brain like a dry sponge to soak up new information.”

Contrary to common beliefs, older adults don’t sleep substantially less than younger adults. From age 35 to 85, people really lose only about an hour of nightly sleep, psychologist Sean Drummond of the University of California, San Dieg

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