Sunday, August 1

Is getting more sleep going to help me avoid dementia?

Will sleeping for extended periods protect you from dementia? Is this a true statement?

According to several published research, persons who sleep fewer than seven hours or more than nine hours a night are more prone to acquire different chronic illnesses, including dementia, than those who sleep seven to nine hours. These studies, on the other hand, have flaws. Some did not have a large number of patients. Others focused on how long people slept when they were 65 years old, rather than how long they slept when they were younger. Other trials lasted just around ten years, making it difficult to make any conclusions regarding long-term health impacts. Finally, the majority of research just accepted the individuals' claims regarding how long they slept. We also tend to lie a little when we report on our healthy living routines.

So, while I was inclined to believe that getting enough sleep was crucial for one's health and may even guard against dementia, I wasn't persuaded. However, recent research published in the journal Nature Communications on April 20, 2021, has gone a long way toward persuading me. 8,000 50-year-olds were chosen and tracked for 25 years by researchers. Participants in the research kept track of how long they slept each night, and some even wore gadgets that tracked their body movement, ensuring that their sleep reports were reliable. To put it another way, the study overcomes many of the flaws of previous research.

The study's findings were shocking. When people aged 50 slept an average of seven hours per night compared to those who slept just six hours per night, it was shown that those who slept less were 22 per cent more likely to acquire dementia. When adults aged 60 were compared, those who slept less were found to be 37% more likely to acquire dementia. The odds of acquiring dementia were considerably higher for those who slept less than six hours every night – people like you.

We can't say for sure that getting seven hours of sleep a night would lower your risk of dementia because this was observational research. To demonstrate this, we'd have to run a randomized experiment in which thousands of people were compelled to sleep an average of seven hours each night for 25 years, while thousands of others were required to be sleepless. It is apparent how difficult it would be to perform such a study in the actual world. So, I'd advise you to follow your doctor's advice. I can't promise that sleeping more will save you from developing dementia. But I'm sure you'll feel better soon.

— Harvard Health Letter Editor in Chief Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D.

Is getting more sleep going to help me avoid dementia?

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