Lack of Sleep May Be Linked to Dementia

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Make sure to sleep tight everyone. Count sheep. Listen to calming music. A touch of melatonin won’t hurt. 

A good night’s sleep will improve your chances of not developing dementia. 

An expansive new study promotes the power of sleep for people in their 50s and 60s. The research, published earlier this month in the journal Nature Communications, followed nearly 8,000 people in Britain for about 25 years, beginning when they were 50 years old.  

The research showed that people who consistently reported sleeping six hours or less on an average weeknight were about 30 percent more likely than people who regularly slept for seven hours or more to be diagnosed with dementia nearly three decades later. 

“It would be really unlikely that almost three decades earlier, this sleep was a symptom of dementia, so it’s a great study in providing strong evidence that sleep is really a risk factor,” Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, told The New York Times. She was not involved in the study.

The research reflects the findings of a 2017 study. Researchers concluded that people who get less REM sleep are at higher risk to develop dementia. REM sleep is the most “active” part of sleep involving the brain. Your eyes dart in different directions behind your eyelids (Rapid Eye Movement). It’s during this stage that your brain is at its peak of sleep activity.

In the latest study, researchers tracked how many hours the 7,959 participants slept. They filed reports six times between 1985 and 2016. When the study concluded, 521 people had been diagnosed with dementia at an average age of 77.

The study indicated no general difference between men and women.

“The study found a modest, but I would say somewhat important association of short sleep and dementia risk,” Pamela Lutsey, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota, told the Times. “Short sleep is very common and because of that, even if it’s modestly associated with dementia risk, it can be important at a societal level. Short sleep is something that we have control over, something that you can change.”

Want to improve your sleep? Here are some common-sense tips to follow:

● Try to keep a sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up around the same time. Try not to sleep beyond eight hours.

● Avoid those midnight snacks. Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed.

●Create a restful environment and a room that’s ideal for sleeping.

●Limit daytime naps.

● Put the cell phone away before going to sleep.

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