Taking sleeping pills and not being able to fall asleep quickly are linked to an increased risk of dementia over a 10-year period, according to a study.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found a significant association between three measures of sleep disorders and the risk of developing dementia, a neurodegenerative disease.
Researchers associate insomnia (difficulty falling asleep within 30 minutes) and use of sleeping pills with a higher risk of developing dementia.
They also found that people who reported insomnia (difficulty getting back to sleep after waking up) developed dementia over the course of the study.
“We expected that insomnia at the onset of sleep and the use of sleeping pills would increase the risk of dementia, but we were surprised to find that insomnia reduced the risk of dementia,” said study leader Roger Wong, assistant professor at SUNY Upstate Medical University, USA.
The study is the first to examine how long-term sleep disturbances are associated with dementia risk using a nationally representative sample of older US adults.
Previous research has linked rapid eye movement (REM) sleep patterns — thought to play an important role in memory and learning — of less than five hours of sleep and the use of short-acting benzodiazepines with cognitive decline.
The insomnia findings support other recent studies using smaller, separate data samples.
This study used 10 annual waves (2011-2020) of prospective data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), a longitudinal study surveying a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older in the United States.
The study only included people who were dementia-free at baseline in 2011. There is no cure for dementia and recent pharmaceutical approaches to treating dementia have had limited success, indicating the importance of preventive approaches to dementia.
“By focusing on the variations in sleep disorders, our findings may help inform lifestyle changes that may reduce the risk of dementia,” added study co-researcher Margaret Anne Lovier of SUNY Upstate Medical University.
(This article is published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. No editing was done in the copy of ABP Live other than the headline.)
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