Lack of Sleep Among 50+ Year-Olds Linked To Dementia Risk

Lack of Sleep Among 50+ Year-Olds Linked To Dementia Risk

It’s not uncommon to become more forgetful as you age. If that forgetfulness begins impacting your daily life, it may be a sign of a more significant concern such as dementia. But did you know that the amount of sleep you get each night could increase your chances of developing dementia?

According to a recent study, individuals in their 50s and 60s getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep each night have a higher risk of developing dementia than individuals getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

This study highlights the importance of getting a whole night’s sleep to promote brain health. ApneaMed is here to help you better understand this connection between poor sleep quality and dementia in individuals 50 years or older.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a general term that refers to the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions, often compromising a person’s ability to problem-solve or jog their memory. It becomes more prominent in individuals as they age. However, it is not considered a normal part of aging. Dementia is caused by abnormal brain changes that, when severe enough, impair a person’s ability to function independently. The most common disease associated with dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes an individual to get a poor night’s sleep due to repeated cessations in breathing throughout the night. While sleeping, the individual’s soft palate collapses and blocks their airway. As a result, the person finds themself gasping for air — often unaware that this is even happening while they sleep.

Because of this, they often wake up feeling completely unrested even after getting what they believe to be a full night’s sleep.

Because obstructive sleep apnea causes an individual to have poor sleep quality, it can put them at a higher risk of developing dementia in their 50s and 60s.

The Link Between Lack of Sleep & Dementia

In a recent study published online April 20 in Nature Communications, researchers examined the connection between sleep and dementia in 7,959 participants from the United Kingdom over 25 years.

During the study’s follow-up, researchers diagnosed 521 cases of dementia. Of the individuals diagnosed with dementia, many received fewer than 6 hours at age 50 and 60. These findings make researchers question whether or not poor sleep can worsen dementia, and in turn, if improving an individual’s quality of sleep can reduce the risk of developing dementia. 

Ultimately, researchers concluded that getting poor sleep in middle age could cause or worsen dementia in later life, which is why it’s important to treat sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

The Importance of Sleep Apnea Testing

If you’re having difficulty sleeping or feeling unrested after a full night’s sleep, it’s essential to get tested for sleep apnea. Early intervention and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea provide an opportunity to reduce the symptoms of dementia later in life.

To determine if you’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, we recommend performing a self-administered sleep apnea test. A home sleep study makes it easy for the patient to conduct the test in the comfort of their own home.

 While sleeping, the device records the patient’s blood oxygen levels, heart and breathing rates, and how often their body moves blood oxygen saturation. Following the unattended home sleep study, one of ApneaMed’s board-certified sleep physicians will analyze the results and offer a recommended treatment plan to improve your sleep quality, thus decreasing the risk of dementia.

If you have any questions about ApneaMed’s at-home sleep apnea test or our sleep apnea treatment equipment, contact our team to learn more.

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