Monday, February 11, 2013
Older age people may have memory problems from lack of deep sleep
This article discusses research about our aging brain, sleep quality, and memory. As we age, there is a reduction in volume in a part of our brain behind the middle of our forehead - the medial pre-frontal cortex (PFC). Sleep researchers think this area helps generate the deepest levels of sleep. As we age, the amount of deep sleep is reduced gradually. Many older people have little deep sleep. In this study, the researchers think that the older people who had less deep sleep than younger people, had reduced ability to remember new things. They think this effect is not so much about the volume reduction in the PFC, and more about the loss of deep sleep. Unfortunately, not much can be done to increase the level of deep sleep, whether you are old or young. Some medications have been shown to mildly increase deep sleep levels. Some researchers are apparently working with electrical stimulation of the brain - sounds interesting but I don't know more about it.