A new study, following thousands of people aged 60 years and older, suggests those who have six hours or less of sleep every night are more likely to develop a condition, specifically dementia in their late 70s.
The New York Times reported that for years, researchers have contemplated this, along with other questions about how sleep links to cognitive decline.
Answers have been indefinable as it is difficult to determine if inadequate sleep can be considered a symptom of brain changes underlying dementia or if it can really help cause such changes.
This large new research presents some of the most convincing results yet which suggest that those who are not getting adequate sleep in their 50s and 60s may more likely develop dementia later in life.
6 Hours or Less of Sleep
The study entitled "Association of sleep duration in middle and old age with incidence of dementia," published in the Nature Communications journal, has boundaries but several strengths, as well.
The research tracked almost 8,000 people in Britain for around 25 years, starting when they were 50 years old.
As a result, the study authors discovered that those who consistently reported they had six hours or less of sleep on an average weeknight were approximately more possible compared to those who are regularly getting seven hours of sleep, considered as 'normal' sleep in the research, to be detected with dementia almost three decades after.
As indicated in the study, pre-dementia brain changes like buildups of proteins links to Alzheimer's are known to start about 15 to 20 years before people show problems with memory and thinking. Thus, sleep patterns within that timeframe could be regarded as a developing impact of the disease.
Behavior Affecting Sleep
Neurologist Dr. Eric Musiek who is also co-director of the Center on Biological Rhythms and Sleep at Washington University in St. Louis and not involved in this new study, said that he does not know that the research "necessarily seals the deal," although it's getting closer as it has many people who were comparatively young.
The neurologist added that there is a decent chance that they are taking people in their middle age prior to having Alzheimer's disease pathology or plaques and jumbles in the brain.
Drawing on medical information as well as other data from a prominent study which started in the mid-1980s, the study authors followed the number of hours more than 7,900 participants said they slept in reports filed six times from 1985 to 2016.
By the study's conclusion, 521 people were diagnosed to have dementia at age 77 on average.
The researchers were able to adjust for some behaviors and traits that might affect the sleep patterns or risk of dementia of people, said the French public-health research center's epidemiologist Severine Sabia, who is also the study's author.
Those comprised smoking, consumption of alcohol, how people engaged in physical activities, body mass index or BMI, vegetable and fruit consumption, level of education, and conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, among others.
A similar report is shown on The University of Sydney's YouTube video below:
Check out more news and information on Dementia in Science Times.