If a new study is to be believed, people that are not getting enough sleep in their 50s and 60s may be increasing their chances of developing dementia later in life. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, followed nearly 8,000 people in Britain for about 25 years, beginning when they were about 50 years old.
Subjects who reported averaging six hours or less sleep a night were 30 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who regularly averaged seven hours or more of sleep per night. In fact, doctors say that even an extra hour of sleep can make a difference when it comes to the proper functioning of the brain.
In a report in Healthline, facility director of the Indiana Sleep Center, Dr Abhinav Singh, said, “We've discovered that sleep and memory consolidation are related. It is during different sleep stages and their cycling that new memories and information are processed, the excess and negative memories are removed, and the archiving of contextual memories take place.”
Singh said, “Emotional memory processing also takes place during our sleep cycles. The last two hours of sleep are rich with REM sleep, and more evidence is coming that this is an important phase of sleep that helps us with memory consolidation and emotional memory. And if you deprive yourself of these last two hours, you are going to impair that process.”
There are different opinions on whether the lack of sleep could be a symptom of other underlying conditions leading to dementia. The study factored in other causes believed to lead to dementia, including smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, body mass, education level, conditions such as diabetes, and mental illness.