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Lack of Sleep Can Double Dementia Risk

Getting regular beauty sleep does a little more than just make us look fresh.

According to researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, routine sleep duration of five hours or less can contribute to doubling the risk of dementia, compared to the recommended seven to eight hours each night.

The researchers conducted a study with data from 2,812 adults aged 65 and over and found that lack of sleep in this age group serves as a foundation for early forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Rebecca Robbins, the lead author of the study, works in Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Sleep and Circadian Disorders division. She stresses the importance for older adults to prioritize good sleep habits for the sake of their future health.

“Our findings illuminate a connection between sleep deficiency and risk of dementia and confirm the importance of efforts to help older individuals obtain sufficient sleep each night,” she said.

Researchers emphasize how good sleep health in people over 65 correlate to better cognitive functions, including attention and memory.

It is this age group especially, according to the Sleep Foundation, that reports more sleep disturbances than any other.

Participants in the study were asked about their quality of sleep, any troubles falling and staying asleep, and their general mood throughout the day. It was found that consistently needing 30 minutes or more to fall asleep was associated with a 45 percent increased risk for dementia later in life.

Because sleep is critical for our body’s regeneration and upkeep, habitual difficulties in sustaining awareness and poor sleep quality for older adults contributed to an increased risk of death.

A 2013 study by the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland found that lack of sleep may result in the rapid development of what are known as sticky amyloid plaques in the brain, which are associated with Alzheimer’s.

The brain undergoes a cleansing process during sleep and problems during this time negatively impact the brain’s efficiency at removing waste, causing loss of brain cells that can prove fatal for older individuals.

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