Now, a large new study reports some of the most persuasive findings yet to suggest that people who don’t get enough sleep in their 50s and 60s .may be more likely to develop dementia when they are older Could getting too little sleep increase your chances of developing dementia?
Answers have been elusive because it is hard to know if insufficient sleep is a symptom of the brain changes that underlie dementia — or if it can actually help cause those changes.
The research, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, has limitations but also several strengths. It followed nearly 8,000 people in Britain for about 25 years, beginning when they were 50 years old.
READ ALSO: It found that those who consistently reported sleeping six hours or less on an average weeknight were about 30 per cent more likely than people who regularly got seven hours sleep to be diagnosed with dementia nearly three decades later.
Pre-dementia brain changes like accumulations of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s are known to begin about 15 to 20 years before people exhibit memory and thinking problems, so sleep patterns within that time frame could be considered an emerging effect of the disease.
“There’s a decent chance that they are capturing people in middle age before they have Alzheimer’s disease pathology or plaques and tangles in their brain.”