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Sleeping less than 6 hours increases risk of dementia, study finds


One study followed nearly 8,000 people for 25 years to understand the relationship between sleep deprivation and dementia in adulthood.

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(CNN) -

Calling everyone with sleep problems: We interrupted your yawning with an important announcement.

If you try to survive on six hours or less of sleep a night during the work week, you are setting your brain up for future failure, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal

Nature Communications


After following nearly 8,000 people for 25 years, the study found an increased risk of dementia with a "sleep duration of six hours or less at the age of 50 and 60" compared to those who slept seven hours a night.

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30% higher risk

Furthermore, a short and persistent sleep duration between the ages of 50, 60 and 70 was also associated with a "30% higher risk of dementia."

And this happened regardless of "sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic and mental health factors," including depression, according to the study.

"Sleep is important for normal brain function and is also believed to be important for removing toxic proteins from the brain that build up in dementias," said Tara Spiers-Jones, deputy director of the Center for Brain Science Discovery. from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in a statement.

Spiers-Jones was not involved in the study.

What is the message for all of us?

Sleep disorders can appear long before other clinical signs of dementia appear, ”said Tom Dening, director of the Dementia Center at the Institute of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham, UK in a statement.


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"However, this study cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship," said Denning, who was not involved in the study.

"Maybe it's just a very early sign of dementia to come, but it's also quite likely that little sleep is not good for the brain and leaves it vulnerable to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease."

The chicken and egg dilemma

It is well known that people with Alzheimer's suffer from sleep problems.

In fact, insomnia, nighttime wandering, and daytime sleepiness are common in people with Alzheimer's, as are other cognitive disorders like Lewy body dementia and frontal lobe dementia.

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But does lack of sleep lead to dementia?

Which comes first?

According to neuroscientist Jeffrey Iliff, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, this "chicken and egg" question has been explored in previous studies, and research points both ways.

"In experimental studies, there seems to be evidence for both the chicken and the egg," Iliff told CNN in an earlier interview.

"You can drive in any direction."

Some recent studies, however, have explored the harm that sleep deprivation can cause.

People who have less REM sleep, or sleep stage, may have a higher risk of developing dementia, a 2017 study found. REM is the fifth stage of sleep, when the eyes move, the body warms, the breathing and pulse race and the mind dreams.


Healthy middle-aged adults who slept poorly during a single night produced an abundance of beta amyloid plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, another study published in 2017 revealed. Amyloid beta is a sticky protein compound that disrupts the communication between brain cells, and it ends up killing cells as it accumulates in the brain.

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One week of interrupted sleep increased the amount of tau, another protein responsible for the tangles associated with Alzheimer's, frontal lobe dementia and Lewy body disease, according to the study.

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Another 2017 study compared dementia markers in cerebrospinal fluid with sleep problems reported by the participants themselves.

The research found that subjects who had sleep problems were more likely to show evidence of tau pathology, damage to brain cells, and inflammation, even when other factors such as depression, body mass, cardiovascular disease, and heart disease were taken into account. sleeping medications.

"Our findings align with the idea that worse sleep may contribute to the build-up of Alzheimer's-related proteins in the brain," Barbara Bendlin of the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Research Center told CNN in a previous interview about the 2017 study.

"The fact that we can find these effects in cognitively healthy people near middle age suggests that these relationships appear early, perhaps providing a window of opportunity for intervention," Bendlin said.

"New information" on the link between sleep and dementia

Since the new study followed a large population over a long period of time, it adds "new information to the emerging landscape" about the relationship between sleep deprivation and dementia, said Elizabeth Coulthard, associate professor of Dementia Neurology. at the University of Bristol, UK, in a statement.

"This means that at least some of the people who developed dementia probably did not have it already at the beginning of the study when their sleep was first assessed," said Coulthard, who was not involved in the study.

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"It reinforces the evidence that poor sleep in middle age could cause or worsen dementia in later life," he said.

At the moment, science does not have a "sure way to prevent dementia," but people can change certain behaviors to reduce their risk, Sara Imarisio, who leads strategic initiatives at Alzheimer's Research UK, said in a statement.

Imarisio did not participate in the study.

"The best evidence suggests that not smoking, drinking only in moderation, staying mentally and physically active, eating a balanced diet, and keeping cholesterol and blood pressure levels under control can help keep our brains healthy as we age."

Dementia Sleep problems

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2021-04-21

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