Sleeping Less Than Six Hours a Night in Midlife Raises the Risk of Dementia, a Study Finds

Jacob Nguyen

If you’re trying to run off of six hours of sleep per night, you may be setting up your brain for future failure, according to a study published on Tuesday by the Journal Nature Communications. After following data from over 8,000 people for 25 years, the study found that people between the ages of 50-60 had higher risk of sleep dementia when they slept less than six hours a night. 

Sleep is important for carrying out normal brain functions and clearing out any toxic proteins that may build up in the brain. Poor sleep is not good for the brain, and it could cause you to be vulnerable to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. 

A study in 2017 found that people who get less REM sleep may be at a higher risk of developing dementia. REM is the fifth stage of sleep, when the mind begins to dream, the body heats up and breathing starts to quicken. In another study in 2017, middle aged people that slept badly for just one night produced an abundance of Beta amyloid. Beta amyloid is a sticky protein that disrupts communication between brain cells, this could eventually kill cells accumulating in the brain. 

Because these studies followed a large population over an extended period of time, it adds more information on the link between sleep deprivation and dementia. 

At this time, there is no sure way to prevent dementia, but people can change their behaviors to reduce the risk. It is suggested that staying mentally and physically active, eating balanced diets, and keeping blood pressure levels in check can keep our brains healthy as we age.