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Want a Better Memory in 30 Years? Go to Sleep Now

Catching some ZZZs today could help your memory stay fresh into old age

Napping now might mean better memory later. (SHINYA SASAKI/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

There are countless reasons why Americans don't get enough sleep. But here's one more good reason why we should change that: making time for sleep during the hustle of youth and middle age could help memory in old age, new research suggests.

An intriguing new study on the power of a good night’s sleep was recently published by the director of Baylor University’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory. As Rick Nauert reports for PsychCentral, Michael K. Scullin pored over 50 years of sleep research—and found something new along the way. The data showed that investing in sleep during youth and middle age can have big benefits in the future, predicting better mental functions up to 28 years later.“People sometimes disparage sleep as ‘lost’ time,” said Scullin in a release. His research shows it’s anything but.

In fact, Scullin found a close correlation between cognition and sleep history in people of an advanced age. The more sleep people bank at an early age, the better their memory functions when they’re old. “Sleeping well still is linked to better mental health, improved cardiovascular health and fewer, less severe disorders and diseases of many kinds,” Scullin notes. If that’s not a valid case for a long afternoon nap, what is?

But don’t worry if you have trouble sleeping now. Another new study published this week suggests that leading an exciting life could help you hang on to memories better (even the mundane ones).

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