Jump to content

Could good night's sleep be key to beating disease ?


Recommended Posts

Could good night's sleep be key to beating disease ?


A GOOD night's sleep could be the key to beating dementia, according to new research.


A study of older people found plenty of deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep - when vivid dreams occur - protected against the devastating neurological disorder.


But spending less time in this phase of the sleep cycle increased the risk by more than a quarter.


And taking longer to enter it by having too much light sleep was also associated with the condition, said scientists.


The discovery may lead to delaying, or even preventing, dementia by improving people's sleep.


Dr Matthew Pase, of the University of Boston in the United States, said: “Our findings point to REM sleep as a predictor of dementia.


“The next step will be to determine why lower REM sleep predicts a greater risk of dementia.


“By clarifying the role of sleep in the onset of dementia, the hope is to eventually identify possible ways to intervene so that dementia can be delayed or even prevented.”


When the body enters a state of deep sleep known as REM the eyes dart around beneath the eyelids. This is when people tend to experience their most vivid dreams.



But spending less time in this phase of the sleep cycle increases the risk of the illness


    Different stages of sleep may differentially affect key features of Alzheimer's disease


    Dr Matthew Pase


Neurologist Dr Pase said: “Different stages of sleep may differentially affect key features of Alzheimer's disease. Our findings implicate REM sleep mechanisms as predictors of dementia.”


Too little shut eye has long been linked to Alzheimer's disease.


Sleep is beneficial for the brain, allowing for the process of clearing out toxins that trigger it. These can build up and lead to damage - as seen in research in animals.



The latest findings, published in the journal Neurology, are based on an analysis of 321 Americans aged over 60 from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) who underwent an overnight sleep study between 1995 and 1998.



The participants from the long running Framingham Heart Study (FHS) were then followed for an average of 12 years to determine their risk of developing dementia.


7 things you should do EVERY day to stave off dementia



Memory boost: Seven things you should do every day to stave off dementia.      

   7 things you should do EVERY day to stave off dementia

    Do a crossword - Studies have shown that people who regularly do crosswords have brains that are ten years younger their actual age

    Take a trip to the sauna - A study by the University of Eastern Finland discovered that frequent sauna bathing could reduce the risk of dementia

    Get a good night’s sleep - Prioritising your sleep could reduce your risk of the brain condition

    Sing in the shower - Research by the University of Virginia revealed that singing improves the cognitive abilities of moderate to severe dementia sufferers

    Go for a walk - A study by the University of British Columbia discovered that going for a one-hour walk three times a week was associated with a more efficient brain and better thinking skills

    Make time for exercise - University of Canberra researchers recently revealed that doing physical activity, such as running or tai chi, could boost brain power in those over 50


Sleep cycles were measured and the people who developed dementia spent an average of 17 percent of it in REM, compared to 20 percent for those who did not.


After adjusting for age and sex, the researchers found links between both a lower amount of REM and a longer time to get to it, and a greater risk of dementia.


Each percentage reduction in REM was associated with a nine percent rise in the risk of any type of dementia, and an eight percent increase in the risk of Alzheimer's.


The results were similar after other factors that could affect dementia risk or sleep, such as heart disease, depression and medication use, were accounted for. Other stages of sleep were not associated with an increased dementia risk.


During the study 32 people were diagnosed with some form of dementia and of those, 24 were determined to have Alzheimer's.

This Morning: Dr Chris reveals that citrus fruits prevent dementia


There are five stages of sleep. The first is light and the second, third and fourth are when the body begins to prepare for deeper sleep. Stage five is REM.


During this dream stage, the eyes move rapidly and there is increased brain activity as well as higher body temperature, quicker pulse and faster breathing.


The first REM stage occurs about an hour to an hour-and-a-half into sleep and then recurs multiple times throughout the night as the cycles repeat.


Dr Pase said it is common for dementia patients to experience sleep disturbance. But it is unclear if this occurs as a consequence of the illness, or if disturbed sleep can trigger it.

How exercise helps people with dementia


He said: “Sleep disturbances are common in dementia but little is known about the various stages of sleep and whether they play a role in dementia risk.


“We set out to discover which stages of sleep may be linked to dementia and while we did not find a link with deep sleep, we did with REM sleep.“


Earlier this year his team found people who consistently sleep more than nine hours each night had double the risk of developing dementia over the next ten years compared to those who slept less.


Dr Pase said further research is needed to determine whether REM sleep helps protect the brain from dementia, or is sensitive to early brain changes that accompany it.

Early signs of Dementia

Dementia affects the ability to remember, think and reason. Here are the early signs to look out for in yourself and loved ones.


By 2025 there will be one million people in the UK with dementia - up from the current 850,000.


Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer's Society, said of the findings: “There's increasing evidence that disturbed sleep is a risk factor for dementia.


“This study found, by monitoring patterns of brain activity during sleep, that trouble with the REM stages of sleep may be linked to a small increased risk of the condition.


“Researchers found that only a small number of people on the study developed dementia and so we can't draw any firm conclusions from this work alone.

A person with dementia...

The discovery may lead to delaying, or even preventing, dementia by improving people's sleep...


“However, it does show the value of recording people's sleep patterns in-depth to gain a more accurate idea of what aspect of sleep could contribute to risk, and that it is more complex than simply counting the hours we spend in bed.


“Over the next few years we should hope to see some answers to the novel questions about the role that sleep plays in dementia risk, including whether sleep disturbance is a contributing factor to dementia risk or is caused by the early stages of the condition.


“Studies can also start to test if correcting sleep abnormalities can reverse any increase in risk.”


He added: “There are things that we can all do to try and improve our sleep, such as avoiding alcohol, caffeine and smoking in the hours before bed and trying to establish more routine around bedtime.”




Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 0
  • Views 501
  • Created
  • Last Reply


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...