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News: Is Sleep Linked to Dementia?

Reprinted from - June 2021 Vol. 52 no. 5

People who regularly slept six or fewer hours a night in their 50's, 60's and 70's were about 30% more likely to develop dementia than those who slept at least 7 hours, a newly published study finds.

The increased risk persisted even when scientists accounted for physical and mental health problems, socioeconomic factors and other dementia risks.

"The novelty of this study is that its long follow-up period allowed us to assess the association of sleep duration at age 50 and dementia risk in later life," says Severine Sabia of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

Sabia's study strongly suggests that persistent lack of sleep in midlife might be a key driver of dementia decades later, says Brendan Lucey, of the Washington University School of Medicine.

Researchers followed nearly 8000 people in Britain for an average of 25 years and assessed their sleep patterns, starting at age 50. At 50, those reporting less sleep face a 22% increased risk of dementia. At 60, the increased risk was 37% and at 70, 24%.


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