ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) —Missing a good night’s sleep now and then may not hurt you in your younger years, but as you get into your 50’s, 60’s, and beyond, cutting your sleep short, by even an hour or so a night, could affect your mind.
A study of nearly 8,000 people over 25 years, found that those who usually slept six or fewer hours were 30 percent more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
That happened regardless of medical factors, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and mental health factors.
At UPMC Altoona’s Sleep Center, Dr. Mehrdad Ghaffari called the findings fascinating.
“We know that lack of sleep at any age affects the hormones, affects the brain function, but until now we didn’t know, we didn’t have a clue, that relates sleep deprivation to Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Dr. Ghaffari said.
The lowest incidence of dementia occurred in people who slept seven hours a night. According to Dr. Ghaffari, not only your dementia risk but also your chances of death from all kinds of disease are higher with less sleep.
He explained, “Sleep is not a useless part of the day. You have to value your sleep. Sleep is the time of the day that your body starts actually making energy, getting ready for the next day.”
If you’re concerned that your own lack of sleep may increase your risk of dementia, Dr. Ghaffari recommends practicing good sleep hygiene.
That means going to bed and getting up at regular times, keeping your bedroom cooler than the rest of your home, and not using your phone, computer or television late into the evening.
And if you’re having problems sleeping, don’t turn to sleep medications, talk to your doctor. Dr. Ghaffari doesn’t even recommend prescription sleep medication, saying there are better ways to deal with sleep disorders.
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