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Relationships between physical activity, sleep and cognitive function: A narrative review

Sewell, K.R., Erickson, K.I., Rainey-Smith, S.R., Peiffer, J.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-3331-1177, Sohrabi, H.R.ORCID: 0000-0001-8017-8682 and Brown, B.M.ORCID: 0000-0001-7927-2540 (2021) Relationships between physical activity, sleep and cognitive function: A narrative review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 130 . pp. 369-378.

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Physical activity and exercise can improve cognitive function and reduce the risk for dementia. Other lifestyle factors, including sleep, are associated with cognitive function and dementia risk, and exercise is an effective therapeutic strategy for improving sleep. Based on these associations, it has been hypothesised that sleep might be an important mediator for the effects of exercise on cognition. Here, we review the current literature to evaluate whether sleep and physical activity are independently or jointly associated with cognitive function. The extant literature in this area is minimal, and the causal relationships between physical activity, sleep and cognition have not been examined. A small number of cross-sectional studies in this area suggest that physical activity may attenuate some of the negative impact that poor sleep has on cognition, and also that sleep may be a mechanism through which physical activity improves cognitive abilities. Further research may enable the development of individually tailored intervention programs to result in the greatest cognitive benefit, ultimately delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Centre for Healthy Ageing
Food Futures Institute
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd.
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