Those who only get six hours of sleep a night or less may be at a higher risk for dementia later in life. According to a new study of British adults, people in their 50s and 60s were found to need more sleep.
The study published in Nature Communications included information analyzed by the French national health-research institute INSERM. The data was from a long-term study by the University College London, which followed the health of 7,959 British individuals since 1985. It was specifically looking at dementia risk in those sleeping six or fewer hours per night between the ages of 50 – 60 compared to those who had seven hours of sleep.
All participants in the study were required to self-report their sleep duration, while about 3,900 of them also wore watch devices overnight to confirm their estimates.
It was found that there was a 30 percent increased dementia risk in those with consistently short sleeping patterns from the age of 50 to 70. This was irrespective of cardiometabolic or mental health issues, which are known risk factors for dementia.
Is Dementia a Symptom or Cause?
According to the World Health Organization, almost ten million new cases of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, are reported each year worldwide. And disrupted sleep is a common symptom of dementia.
However, a growing body of research is starting to question if sleep problems could also be a risk from cognitive impairments. Sleep time has been linked to dementia in older adults, 65 years and older, but it is unclear if this association is true for younger groups.
Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK told Science Media Centre explains, “Many of us have experienced a bad night’s sleep and probably know that it can have an impact on our memory and thinking in the short term, but an intriguing question is whether long-term sleep patterns can affect our risk of dementia.”
Experts agree that there may not be a magic bullet to prevent dementia. Still, the evidence does suggest that not smoking, drinking in moderation, eating healthy, and staying physically and mentally active can help keep the brain healthy as we age. Now, getting a good night’s rest can also be added to this list. To maintain sleep quality, try to go to bed and rise at the same time each day, sleep in a dark, cool room, and turn off any electronics an hour before bedtime. Also, remember to cut out any caffeinated drinks at least 2 hours before going to bed. By adding a few healthy lifestyle steps to your day, you may be able to reduce the risk of dementia.