Sleep May Not Improve Seniors’ Memory

By Elizabeth Thielke / Posted on 21 November 2011

How many times have we forgotten something (OK, maybe it’s just me) and blamed it on a lack of sleep?

Though sleep deprivation has been linked to memory loss, a new study suggests that a good night’s sleep doesn’t seem to improve older adults’ memory.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in Washington, D.C. In November, 2011.

The study included 25 younger and 24 older adults who learned how to navigate a computer game until they learned it. They then spent 12 hours either awake or asleep before being asked to do the computer task again.

Younger adults who had a good night’s sleep made fewer mistakes than those who remained awake for 12 hours, but older adults who slept did no better than those who stayed awake.

The findings suggest that age-related brain changes, not age-related sleep problems, are responsible for some of the memory problems that can occur in older adults.

The study findings are preliminary and there are many other benefits of sleep, so be sure to consult you physician or other healthcare provider if you have any questions regarding memory or sleep.

-Elizabeth Thielke


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