Dementia is an umbrella term for a collection of symptoms associated with brain damage. Common symptoms include memory loss and impaired judgement. While the condition cannot be prevented, certain lifestyle decisions may increase a person’s risk. Recent evidence sheds a new light on the relationship between sleep and dementia risk.
Scientists found a strong relationship between people who slept for nine hours or more per night and a significant decline in memory and language skills – early warning signs of dementia.
Those who got less than six hours were also at risk, with researchers claiming the optimum amount of sleep is seven to eight hours.
The team of academics from the University of Miami Miller School looked at 5,247 Hispanics over seven years.
Participants, all aged between 45 and 75, were part of the nationwide Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos.
It included Latinos from diverse backgrounds in Chicago, Miami, San Diego and the Bronx in New York City.
Participants were given a neurocognitive test at the start and the end of the study.
While it is not clear why too much sleep can cause dementia, the researchers explain that people at-risk of the disorder have disruptions in their brain which promote longer sleeps.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adopting certain sleep habits may help to protect a person’s brain health.
The NSA says to avoid sleeping in. The health body also recommends limiting sleep disruptions by using a white noise machine or blackout curtains if necessary.
As the health site explained: “People who have restless, poor sleep have a higher risk of cognitive decline than those who sleep straight through the night.”
If a person is not sure whether they are waking up throughout the night, they should use a sleep tracker to accurately determine how much shut-eye they are getting, the health site noted.
“Talk to your doctor if you’ve noticed that your sleeping habits have changed. Together, you can discuss whether cognitive decline is playing a role in your lost sleep, and what to do about it,” it added.
It is also imperative to look out for the warning signs of dementia. Recognising the symptoms can help people to slow down the onset and maintain quality of life for as long as possible.
According to the NHS, dementia can impair:
- Memory loss
- Thinking speed
- Mental sharpness and quickness
- Difficulties carrying out daily activities
“People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities, or may have problems controlling their emotions,” added the health site.
Here are five ways to prevent dementia.