Sleep and Age
Headaches, eye strain, and sleep improvement are some of the core areas of focus our glasses address. Peeling the layers of benefits of sleep improvement back, we can begin to ask if sufficient sleep has a relationship with dementia prevention. For many of us, the days of clocking in tons of hours of GoldenEye 007 in the ‘90s are (sadly) gone, and it could be time to think about how we’ll game as we get a bit older given the premise. The article “A Lack of Sleep in Middle Age Can Increase the Risk of Dementia” by Tony Hicks for Healthline will help explain possible risks of poor sleep as many approach or are in their middle ages.
Hicks shares that according to a study in a journal called Nature Communications, it examined 8,000 people in Great Britain for about 25 years starting at age 50. According to Hicks, “The subjects who reported averaging 6 hours or less sleep a night were 30 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who regularly averaged 7 hours or more of sleep per night.” Dr. Abhinav Singh, facility director of Indiana Sleep Center, provided more context to Healthline while discussing a discovery that sleep and memory consolidation are related. One of his statements was, “The last two hours of sleep are rich with REM sleep, and more evidence is coming that this is an important phase of sleep that helps us with memory consolidation and emotional memory. And if you deprive yourself of these last two hours, you are going to impair that process.”
The Last Hours of Sleep
Building off Dr. Singh’s comments, Dr. Chelsie Rohrscheib, neuroscientist and sleep special provides more insight in the article as to why the last hours of sleep are so important. Paraphrasing, she states that sleep is a time for cleanup of toxic waste that builds up in the brain, most notably, beta-amyloid. According to Dr. Rohrscheib, beta-amyloid is thought to be the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, she states that, “Most of the removal of beta-amyloid occurs during the deepest stages of sleep” and, “When sleep is restricted to less than seven hours, the brain has less time to clear beta-amyloid away, leading to toxic levels of accumulation and raising the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.”
Hicks made a point to mention that there are differing opinions over a lack of sleep in people in their 50s and 60s possibly being a symptom of other conditions causing dementia. Dr. Zeeshan Khan, medical director for the Institute for Sleep Medicine at Deborah Heart and Lung Center in New Jersey weighed in on this. Referring to the study and lack of casual relationship between dementia and short sleep duration she stated, “It simply makes an association between the two. Insufficient sleep may be an early sign or risk factor for dementia.” Hicks notes that, “The effect of sleep on overall health is something that hasn’t necessarily been studied extensively until recently” and that, “Some doctors say that it doesn’t help that in some cultures, work time is frequently valued over devoting equal time to sleep.”
There is undoubtedly shaky ground as to if a lack of sleep can truly be associated with dementia. Until there is more research done, one can’t draw definitive conclusions. However, Drs. Singh and Rohrscheib paint a convincing picture as to how important sleep is, particularly in the final hours. While a connection with dementia cannot be made at this point, toxins still need to be cleaned from the brain and memory consolidation still must occur. It’s never too late to think about how to tackle the challenge of sleeping more, getting healthier, and gaming more comfortably. We’re right there with you along the way.