A new study observing sleep patterns suggests that those who struggle to sleep through the night may also suffer from dementia later in life.
“Previous studies have indicated people who sleep excessively, or long sleepers, tend to have an increased risk for dementia,” said Dr. Alice Hoagland, a sleep specialist with Rochester Regional Health who spoke with 13WHAM. “But this is the first study that indicated that people who biologically were short sleepers also had a higher increased risk for dementia.”
The study followed people over a 25 year period. It started when they were 50 and found that those who slept less than 6 hours per night had a higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia in their 70s.
There were a lot of questions about the study, and Dr. Alice Hoagland, director of Rochester Regional Health’s Insomnia Clinic had some of her own. “I would be very hard pressed to say that being a very short sleeper, sort of staying up late at night and getting up early in the morning and all that, is predictive of developing dementia because we simply don’t know which way this goes,” she told 13WHAM.
At the end of the day, improving sleep patterns has a range of health benefits- even if the data remains inconclusive about the likelihood of dementia later in life for short sleepers.
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