If you sleep that many hours, your risk of dementia skyrockets

Getting enough sleep is important for all sorts of reasons: our bodies and brains simply work better when we’re well rested. “Sleep affects almost every tissue in our body,” Michael Twery, MD, told the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.” Neuroscientist Merrill MythsMD, adds: “Sleep serves all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular and energetic balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood.

However, the amount of rest we need each night varies from person to person. While some may feel great with just six hours of sleep, others need a full eight hours or more to feel like they’re functioning at their best. A recent study, however, raises a red flag about the link between getting a certain number of hours of sleep per night and the risk of developing dementia later on. Read on to find out how many sleep experts could put you in the danger zone.

READ NEXT: Doing this at night can help you stave off dementia, study finds.

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More than 55 million people worldwide are currently living with dementia and nearly 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Early symptoms can include forgetfulness, loss of track of time, and getting lost in places you’ve been to many times before, their experts write. As the disease progresses, people with dementia will find it increasingly difficult to communicate and take care of themselves, and eventually they will not know where they are, behave in ways erratic and will have difficulty recognizing their loved ones.

Dementia can result from Alzheimer’s disease, which is the main cause of the disease, or from stroke, head trauma or another disease. Sometimes the exact reason for dementia is unknown. Whatever the cause, according to the WHO, dementia is the seventh leading cause of death worldwide and there is currently no cure.

READ NEXT: Doing this at night makes you 30% more likely to develop dementia.

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If you’re worried about your cognitive function and want to stay alert for as many years as possible, getting some rest is one of the best things you can do for your brain. “Sleep loss impairs your higher levels of reasoning, problem solving, and attention to detail,” Mitler told the NIH. “The thing is, when we look at well-rested people, they’re functioning at a different level than people who are trying to get by on one or two hours less of nighttime sleep.”

Studies have linked common sleep problems such as snoring and sleep apnea to an increased risk of dementia. Therefore, if you are struggling with any of these issues, it is essential that you speak with your doctor about the best way to treat and resolve them.

researcher examining brain scans

While getting enough sleep is important, two relatively recent studies have raised concerns about sleep too a lot and what it could mean for your cognitive health.

A February 2020 study published in the journal Alzheimer’s and dementia found that sleeping more than nine hours each night was linked to decreased memory and learning difficulties, two warning signs of dementia. “Insomnia and prolonged sleep duration appear to be linked to a decline in neurocognitive functioning that may precede the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” said the study’s lead author, Alberto R. RamosMSPH, said in a press release.

An earlier study, published in the February 2017 issue of Neurology, found that older people who slept more than nine hours a night, but had only recently begun to sleep, were more than twice as likely to develop dementia a decade later. However, the researchers said they don’t know if the excess sleep was the reason for the dementia diagnosis or if it was just a symptom of a cognitive decline that was already beginning to show. install.

“We’re not suggesting you go wake up grandpa,” Sudha SeshadriMD and lead author of the study, said in Neurology. “We think this might be a marker of dementia risk, not a cause.”

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While the prospect of potentially developing dementia is certainly frightening, it’s important to understand that certain lifestyle habits could help keep it at bay. Things like exercising regularly and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats can help, according to the NIH’s National Institute on Aging. Managing your blood sugar and maintaining a healthy weight can also help, as can addressing hearing issues (if you’ve been told you need hearing aids, wear them) and staying in touch with your friends and family. And of course, get enough sleep, but maybe not too plenty of sleep – will also help keep you on your toes.

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