Insufficient sleep can increase this group’s risk of dementia
Here’s another reason to make sure you’re well rested. A new study found some links between lack of sleep and dementia. The study, which took over 8,000 people for 25 years, found that people who didn’t get enough sleep in their fifties and sixties were more likely to develop dementia.
The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, began tracking subjects in the UK when they were 50 years old. Those who consistently slept less than six hours a night were 30% more likely to develop dementia three decades later than subjects who consistently slept more than seven hours a night.
The research team was able to adapt to behaviors and traits that could affect people’s sleep patterns and increase their risk of dementia, such as smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, and body mass index.
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“It’s really unlikely that this sleep was a symptom of dementia nearly three decades ago, so it’s a great study to provide strong evidence that sleep is really a risk factor,” said Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of California, told the New York Times.
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One of the limitations of the study is that most of the data was self-reported, which does not provide the most accurate results. The study did not differentiate between different types of dementia. and the majority of the participants were white and better educated than the entire British population.
Sleep disorders correlate with various health conditions. While experts do not know how this could be related to dementia, there are several theories floating around. The more people are awake, the more they produce amyloid, a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It is also believed that flowing fluids during sleep clears away excess proteins, which means that if this process is disrupted, harmful proteins can build up and cause brain damage.
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While the study doesn’t answer all of the questions, experts believe that while they don’t have a completely clear picture, the results show a strong link between lack of sleep and dementia. Developing better sleep habits, a factor we can control and work on, could lead to a preventative measure against dementia, a condition that has long been associated with genetics and mystery.