You can train your brain with online games. You can faithfully work the hardest crossword puzzles you can find. You can practice an instrument. Create art. Eat brain-friendly foods. Stay involved in community life. And exercise regularly.
All of these steps help to keep your brain health robust and your intellect engaged as you age. They’re really just vital, engaged ways to work out your brain and keep on thinking clearly.
A Mind Like Fine Wine
Another way to stay mentally sharp in old age is to make sleeping more, and regularly, a deliberate part of your routine throughout middle age. As we grow older, we may sleep a little less. But good sleep during midlife is associated with fewer cognitive deficits in old age, research at Baylor University has shown.
Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory in Waco, Texas, analyzed 50 years of studies across multiple fields and found that better sleep in middle age (defined for research purposes as from 30 to 60) is associated with better mental functioning later in life. Good sleep habits in middle age can help protect against age-related cognitive declines, including memory problems.
Middle age is crunch time in most people’s lives. Careers are peaking, kids are reaching their most challenging years and, often at the same time, aging parents become less independent and begin to need support. It can be really tough to juggle all that—not to mention exhausting.
You deserve good rest, now more than ever. Not only does it help you cope, but your brain will thank you for it long after the crunch years are over.
Think of steady sleep habits as an investment in your future in the same way as you’d save for retirement. It’s the regular savings, with interest compounding over time, that add up to a financially secure old age. Sleep is no different, the researchers suggest.
Your New 401K
Make your “Sleep 401K” an important priority in your life. You’ll be sharper, healthier and happier when you’re old. Because an active and capable mind is a kind of security no money can buy.
Need another enticement to sleep well? Treat yourself to a sublime, customized organic mattress—and make the most of your dreams.