Physical activity: an antidote to memory decline due to poor sleep?

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The Challenge of Aging – Memory Decline

As we grow older, maintaining optimal brain health can become a challenge. Memory decline is a common side effect of aging, often exacerbated by lifestyle factors such as poor sleep.

However, recent research suggests that a solution might be as simple as staying physically active.

New Research Reveals Hope

Scientists from Murdoch University’s Center for Healthy Aging have shed light on the significant role that sleep and physical activity play in brain health as we age.

The research found that physical activity could potentially offset some of the negative impacts of poor sleep on memory and thinking skills.

Kelsey Sewell, a Ph.D. candidate at Murdoch University, led the study in collaboration with senior authors Associate Professor Stephanie Rainey-Smith and Associate Professor Belinda Brown.

The study investigated participants’ memory and thinking skills and examined the presence of beta-amyloid, a toxic brain protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The Interaction of Sleep and Physical Activity

Sewell highlighted that the combined effect of sleep and physical activity, given their close relationship, was the primary focus of the study.

“Our results show that in people who are less physically active, poorer sleep was associated with worse memory and thinking skills.

However, in those with higher physical activity, sleep did not have a significant impact on their memory and thinking,” she explained.

The researchers also found that sleep and physical activity might collectively influence levels of beta-amyloid in the brain. However, more research is needed to fully comprehend these interactions.

A Ray of Hope for Older Adults

These results could bring hope to older adults who struggle with sleep quality. Sewell stated,

“Our results illustrate that physical activity may compensate for some of the negative effects poor sleep has on memory and thinking skills in older adults.”

Despite the promising findings, the researchers caution that due to the novelty of the research, further studies are needed to validate these conclusions.

The research findings have been published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.

Wrapping it up

In conclusion, while poor sleep can negatively impact memory in older adults, maintaining a physically active lifestyle may help offset these effects.

By taking the stairs, going for a brisk walk, or engaging in other forms of exercise, older adults may be able to counter some of the memory and thinking skills decline associated with poor sleep.

If you care about dementia, please read studies that 7 healthy habits could help lower dementia risk for people with diabetes, and this antibiotic drug may effectively treat common dementia.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that high doses of common depression drug could temporarily switch off the brain, and results showing watch for these potential heart and brain problems after COVID-19.

The study was published in Behavioural Brain Research.

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