A Connection Between Lack of Sleep and Dementia Discovered

September 22, 2017 in Our News & Bulletins by Brio Home Health and Hospice

For years now, scientific research has uncovered a variety of problems caused by lack of sleep. A recent study published in Neurology has shed some light on a new potential problem. In this new study, lack of rapid eye movement or REM sleep comes with an increased risk of dementia.

REM sleep is just one of four stages of sleep we experience but it’s a very important stage of sleep. For this study, researchers followed, for nineteen years, 321 participants of a sleep study. There were 32 cases of dementia, 24 of which were consistent with Alzheimer’s. After adjusting for all other factors, there was a correlation between lower REM sleep and dementia. In fact, for every one percent reduction in REM sleep the risk of dementia increased by nine percent.

The study did not prove that lack of REM sleep causes dementia, but it did prove a correlation. The researchers want to investigate this correlation more in depth, but they have some theories. It’s possible that lack of REM sleep may cause dementia as REM sleep may help rejuvenate synaptic connections in the brain. On the other hand, it’s possible that the lack of REM sleep is a symptom of other factors that can lead to dementia, such as stress and anxiety. New research will be key to finding out.

If you are experiencing sleep issues, you might want to set up an appointment with a sleep professional to gauge the cause of your issues and to arrive at treatment options.

Source: Matthew P. Pase, Jaynadra J. Himali, et. al., “Sleep Architecture and the Risk of Incident Dementia in the Community.” Neurology.

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