Dementia, a general term describing the decreased ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interfere with doing daily activities, affects an estimated 5 million Americans at any given time. however, the cognitive disease is not a normal part of aging, says the says CDC. There are a number of risk factors that influence whether or not you develop one of the many forms of the disease. Many of them are genetically determined. However, some are environmental or behavioral. Now, a study published in Aging has found a link between an unhealthy habit and dementia, and found that it can double an individual’s chance of developing it. Read on – and to protect your health and that of others, don’t miss this urgent news: Certain Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
If you sleep less, you have a higher risk of dementia
Harvard-affiliated researchers Brigham and the Women’s Hospital discovered that those who get five or fewer hours of sleep a night are twice as likely to develop dementia than those who sleep seven to eight hours a night. In fact, they found a link between sleep disorders and sleep deprivation with an overall risk of death.
“Our findings uncover a link between sleep deprivation and dementia risk and confirm the importance of efforts to help older people get enough sleep each night,” lead author Rebecca Robbins of the Distribution of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, explained in a press release from Harvard.
As part of their study, Robbins and her team used data collected from 2,610 older adults who participated in the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), a longitudinal survey of Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older. They focused on their sleep-related responses and then collected information about patient outcomes, including dementia and death, five years after the study.
They found that several sleep-related factors influenced the likelihood of developing dementia. For example, routinely taking 30 minutes or more to fall asleep was associated with a 45 percent greater risk of incident dementia, while “routinely had difficulty staying alert, routinely taking a nap, reporting poor sleep quality, and five or sleeping fewer hours per night was also associated with an increased risk of death.”
Sleep is good for your brain
“This prospective study shows that sleep deprivation at baseline, when the mean age of participants was 76 years old, was associated with double the risk of incident dementia and all-cause death over the next four to five years,” senior author Charles Czeisler, chief of the division of sleep and circadian disorders, added. “These data add to the evidence that sleep is important for brain health and highlight the need for further research into the efficacy of improving sleep and treating sleep disorders on Alzheimer’s disease risk and mortality. “
The researchers hope their findings will encourage further studies on sleep and its relationship with dementia and death.
“Our study shows that very short sleep duration and poor quality sleep in the elderly increase the risk of developing dementia and earlier death. More attention should be paid to obtaining healthy sleep in older adults,” second author Stuart Quan of the department of sleep and circadian disorders added.
Fighting off dementia isn’t the only benefit of getting enough z’s. According to the United States Department of Health and Human ServicesOther benefits include improved immunity, weight management, reduced stress and mood improvement, a clearer mind to improve performance at school and work, better decision-making skills and a reduced risk of accidents, and a lower risk of serious health problems , including diabetes and heart disease. And to go through life as healthy as possible, you can’t miss this one 13 Everyday Habits That Are Secretly Killing You.