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Want to live to age 100? Work less, rest more

2. You could catch more Z’s

As you sleep, you enter a biological process in which certain hormones are released to repair cells and make sure that your body and brain function properly the next day.

“During sleep, the brain clears out metabolic waste products accumulating during wakefulness, which is important for the maintenance of brain health,” Benedict said.

“Studies have also shown that newly learned information is consolidated during sleep, especially those relevant for future behavior,” he said. “There is also evidence to suggest that sleep promotes processes involved in creativity and problem-solving. Finally, during sleep, parts of the brain recover that are involved in decision-making, stress resilience, learning, planning, vigilance and impulse control.”

Car crashes, industrial disasters and medical and occupational errors can increase when we tire, not to mention decreases in work productivity and efficiency.

Long work hours and lack of sleep may lead to poor performance, poor memory, inability to process new information, judgment issues, difficulties being alert and poor concentration, Seixas said.

“The only two behaviors that seem to enhance the process of clearing out the cellular debris and proteins that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia from the brain is physical activity, to a certain extent, but primarily sleep,” he said.

“When you have an excess of blockage and buildup of protein debris in the brain, what happens is that that has been associated with poor brain function.

“Sleep is important to maintain important homeostasis biological processes – maintaining balance in the body,” he said. “What does that mean? It means that your liver, your heart, all these organs can’t be working at 100% throughout the day. There needs to be a period where they recuperate and regenerate, and so sleep is an important activity for that.”

Getting less than the recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis has been tied to an increased risk of early death.

A longitudinal study of 10,308 British civil servants, published in the journal Sleep in 2007, found that those who reduced their sleep from seven to five hours or fewer a night were almost twice as likely to die from all causes, especially cardiovascular disease. The study also showed an increase in sleep duration, to more than 8 hours, was associated with an increase in mortality.

As it turns out, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease has been also linked with long workweeks, Seixas said.

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