Insomnia can damage your intelligence and overall cognitive function - but it now appears that you can improve your sleep simply by challenging your brain.
Researchers studied 51 insomnia sufferers aged between 65 and 85.
34 of the participants were placed in a 'cognitive training' group and 17 were put in a control group.
All participants then completed a computer training course for 8 weeks.
Those in the cognitive training group were set 21 tasks with 3 different levels of difficulty. The control group wasn't set any high-level cognitive function tasks.
Researchers found that at the end of the 8 weeks, those assigned the cognitive function tasks fell asleep nearly 14 minutes faster and saw their sleep efficiency increase from an average of 73.54% before the treatment to 80.28% after.
What's perhaps even more dramatic is that the decrease in time to fall asleep moved every single insomniac out of the criteria for insomnia (when using that measure alone).
The improvements in sleep efficiency almost moved participants out of the criteria for insomnia (sleep efficiency needs to be below 85%).
The cognitive training group also experienced fewer nighttime awakenings.
There was still something interesting to come from the control group, though. Researchers found that the associated cognitive decline in working memory increased the time it took for these participants to fall asleep.
In conclusion, it would appear that cognitive training - particularly for older insomnia sufferers - can dramatically improve sleep.
So get out there and teach yourself some new tricks!
Last updated: May 17, 2013