New Research Shows Lack Of Sleep Closely Linked To Dementia

Getting a good night’s sleep becomes more difficult with age, but it also becomes more important. Two-thirds of older people report problems with sleep, which can affect people’s health in several ways – and dementia is one of them.

For a while, scientists have observed a link between insomnia and dementia, but a recent article by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School shows just how close the link can be. The study, which covered some 6,300 people aged 65 and older, representing more than 30 million older Americans, found “a strong and consistent relationship between sleep difficulties and incidents of dementia over a follow-up period. eight years “.

How strong is this relationship? “The self-reported difficulty falling asleep was associated with an increased risk of 49% of incident dementia[AWhen}lerisquededémenceincidenteétaitaugmentéde39%chezceuxquiontdéclaréavoirdeladifficultéàserendormir”indiquel’étudeLespersonnesquiontdéclaréavoirdumalàs’endormiretàserendormirprésentaientunrisquededémence58%plusélevéquecellesquiavaientdeshabitudesdesommeilnormales[while}riskofincidentdementiawasincreased39%inthosewhoreporteddifficultyfallingbackasleep”thestudysaidPeoplewhoreportedtheyhadtroublebothfallingasleepandgettingbacktosleepshoweda58%higherriskofdementiaoverthosewhohadnormalsleeppatterns[alorsque}lerisquededémenceincidenteétaitaugmentéde39 %chezceuxquiontdéclaréavoirdeladifficultéàserendormir”indiquel’étudeLespersonnesquiontdéclaréavoirdumalàs’endormiretàserendormirprésentaientunrisquededémence58%plusélevéquecellesquiavaientdeshabitudesdesommeilnormales[while}riskofincidentdementiawasincreased39%inthosewhoreporteddifficultyfallingbackasleep”thestudysaidPeoplewhoreportedtheyhadtroublebothfallingasleepandgettingbacktosleepshoweda58%higherriskofdementiaoverthosewhohadnormalsleeppatterns

And people with insomnia of one kind or another were also more likely to die from other causes during the eight-year period covered by the study: those who had trouble falling asleep had a 44% higher risk of death from all causes, while those who had difficulty falling back to sleep had a 56% higher risk of death. Those who had problems falling asleep and falling back to sleep had an 80% higher risk of dying from any cause during the eight years than people who had no problems sleeping. It is clear that this combination is a double whammy that can have far-reaching consequences on people’s health.

Sleep scientists consider seven to nine hours of sleep a night to be a healthy amount, even for older people. According to the newspaper, about one in five seniors said they had difficulty falling asleep, while 15% of the population in their sample had difficulty falling back to sleep. The study was just published online by the peer-reviewed Journal of Sleep Research.

Why is this happening? There are several theories. When we sleep, fluids build up in the brain that flush out toxins associated with dementia. In the event of insufficient sleep, this clearance is impaired and toxins can accumulate. In addition, insomnia can reduce so-called “slow wave sleep” – deep, dreamless sleep – and this is associated with “higher levels of beta-amyloid in cerebrospinal fluid, which can cause amyloid plague deposits in the brain which are toxic to neurons ”.

Either way, not getting enough sleep is bad for your brain.

So what can you do to get a good night’s sleep? I contacted Dr. Rebecca Robbins, lead author of the study and associate scientist in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Disorders at B&W. She was kind enough to take my call while on maternity leave, and she actually put her baby boy to sleep during the interview, making her an official sleep assistant.

Older people have more difficulty sleeping, but “the good news is that there are evidence-based strategies we can all implement to improve our sleep, especially older people. And that’s what we call healthy sleep strategies or good sleep hygiene, ”she told me.

Meditation is one of them. “Number one, learn relaxation strategies – meditation, mindfulness, visualization exercises, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation,” Robbins said. “Enter it whenever you can. And if it’s five or ten minutes before bedtime, God bless you.

Second, make your bedroom more conducive to sleep. “You want to make sure you have a very dark environment. You also want to make sure that you sleep in a cool environment, ”she said. “Open the windows for some fresh air, turn down the air conditioning. This will help you fall asleep faster, in a deeper sleep.

Finally, she says, “try to eat your last meal of the day away from bedtime. So eating early is really good, not only for your waistline, for your health, for your blood pressure, but also for your sleep.If you eat too close to bedtime, your body may be awake and trying to digest your food while you are trying to fall asleep.

How far from bedtime? Three to four hours is ideal, she said, and avoid eating a large meal an hour to an hour and a half before going to bed. This makes the “early bird special” even better.

Most of us take sleep for granted or pay little attention to it. But research like this shows that, especially as we get older, a good night’s sleep can be the best thing we can do for our body and mind.

Howard Gold is a MarketWatch columnist who writes regularly for Retirement Weekly.

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