Many people subconsciously accept two facts about aging: that memory and cognitive decline are inevitable and that as you get older you will have less restful sleep.
Scientists at Notre Dame University and Boston College recently completed a study where they discovered that sleep helps to improve memory function and enhance creativity, making sleep an integral part of staving off cognitive decline.
The researchers found that during sleep, the brain centers that control emotion and memory are highly active. They concluded that when we sleep our brain processes the emotional aspects of our memories, making them easier to recall and helping us to produce "new and more creative ideas" in our waking lives.
The researchers admit that you can get by with significantly less sleep, but since seeing the results of their own study they have all committed themselves to getting a full 8 hours every night.
They shouldn't compromise critical thinking skills and creativity and neither should we.