Study finds sleep deprivation in middle age increases risk of dementia


CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Another incentive to get those extra zzz’s, it could lower your risk for dementia later in life.

A new study published in the journal “Nature Communications” this week shows people who don’t get enough sleep have a higher chance of developing dementia in older age.

Those who regularly slept more than 7 hours were 30% less likely to develop dementia 25 years later than those averaging six hours or less on an average weeknight.

The study tracked 8,000 British people for about 25 years, starting at age 50.

Health and Science writer for the New York Times Pam Belluck says that these studies have been very hard to do in the past because dementia causes problems with sleep cycles.

“If you don’t go back far enough you have kind of a chicken or egg problem, like is your too little sleep you’re getting is that being caused by the fact that your brain is already developing dementia or is the dementia you’re developing being fueled by the fact that you’re not getting enough sleep,” explained Belluck.

She added that this study is unique because it tracked decades of sleep patterns before those brain changes associated with dementia might have taken effect. It also charted various health, exercise and diet factors for each subject to ensure that those weren’t factors in the results.

Belluck encourages people to follow certain sleep hygiene tips, including taking electronics out of the bedroom and not drinking caffeine too late as a way to encourage better rest.

Watch the full interview in the player above.

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