Exercise is good for your brain, but not if you’re sleep-deprived
For this study, researchers wanted to assess the cognitive benefits of exercise as it relates to aging and sleep habits, namely how much sleep a person gets. To do this, they used data collected over 10 years by the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA), looking at factors such as sleep duration, physical activity levels and tests of cognitive function.
And as it turned out, according to their findings, there is a significant relationship between cognitive decline and insufficient sleep.
For example, study participants who were relatively more active but regularly slept less than six hours a night had faster cognitive decline over the course of the study. In fact, by the end of 10 years, their cognitive function was no better than that of participants who were less active.
On the other hand, participants were more physically active and six to eight hours of sleep a day improved cognitive functioning in general.
As the study’s lead author, Michaela Blumberg, Ph.D., explains in a press release: “Our research suggests that we may need adequate sleep to reap the full cognitive benefits of physical activity. This shows how important it is to consider sleep and physical activity together when thinking about cognitive health.”