Everyone know that getting a good night’s sleep is important. A new study raises the possibility that dementia may be linked to sleep issues.
The study, entitled “Associations of brain lesions at autopsy with polysomnography features before death,” was published online in the journal Neurology, and indicates a link between dementia and sleep. The study does not establish a cause-and-effect relationship, but it adds to the growing body of evidence that suggests that how one sleeps can impact memory capability.
The study was carried out in Hawaii and looked at data gathered from a group of 167 men whose average age was 84. Researchers first examined all of the men’s sleep patterns, and then divided the men into four different groups based on how much of their sleep was spent in a state in which they received low amounts of oxygen. (Lower oxygen levels are associated with sleep apnea and some other sleep disturbances.)
Researchers then looked at other data to determine how many microinfarcts, or tiny strokes less than 1 millimeter in size, had occurred in each man. In the group of men who received the most oxygen during sleep, only 4 of 41 men had microinfarcts. In the group with the least oxygen, the number of men with microinfarcts rose to 14 in 42. Therefore, those in the lowest oxygen group were four times as likely to have had a microinfarct.
The scientists also looked at the amount of time that the men spent in the stage of sleep which is considered the most restful and restorative and found that then men with the least amount of restorative sleep had a greater degree of atrophy in brain tissue.
Neither of these findings conclusively proves that sleep disturbances cause dementia; however, microinfarcts and brain atrophy are more frequently found in people with dementia, suggesting that there may be some link between sleep patterns and dementia.
Treat sleep issues
While it may be years before scientists know whether sleep disturbances definitely increase the risk of dementia, it is clear that sleeping well has benefits for all. Seniors with sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep problems should consult a doctor to find treatments to alleviate these issues.
- Trouble sleeping could result in dementia for older people (medcitynews.com)
- New Study Shows Poor Sleep Habits are Linked to Dementia (pfhub.com)
- Poor sleep pattern ups dementia risk (therebel.website)