New Link Between Poor Sleep and Dementia
A new study has revealed a possible link between dementia and poor sleep patterns in older adults. The study, published in Neurology, looked at 167 men who consented to sleep tests in 1999 who had also died by 2010.
Researchers logged sleep duration and instances of disruption, including waking and episodes of sleep apnea, in each participant. Additionally, they gauged the oxygen levels of the participants’ blood using a technique called pulse oximetry.
Using autopsy results, researchers discovered that participants in the highest quadrant for duration of sleep with an oxygen saturation less than 95 percent were almost four times as likely to incur small areas of dead tissue—microinfarcts—due to lack of adequate blood supply as the participants in the lowest quadrant.
Additionally, researchers noted that when compared with the lowest quarter for duration of deep (slow-wave) sleep, participants in the highest quadrant were less likely to have moderate to high levels of generalized brain atrophy. This means that those who slept in a deep sleep longer had a lower risk of brain atrophy than those who spent less time in deep sleep.
According to Dr. Rebecca P. Gelber, epidemiologist with the Veterans Administration in Hawaii and lead author of the study, other studies have highlighted links between sleep disorders and dementia, but the microinfarcts seen in these participants may be able to shed new light on the connection.
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