Latest News » Study finds sleep disturbance risk factor for dementia

A new study reveals yet another reason why restful regular sleep can help determine a healthy brain.

Poor sleep habits may increase a person's likelihood for dementia, according to a new study from researchers in Hawaii.

Researchers examined 167 men who had undergone sleep tests in 1999 and then died by 2010. As part of the study, the researchers recorded the times that patients were waking along with episodes of apnea, sleep duration and oxygen saturation of the blood.

Autopsies revealed that patients who fell within the highest one-quarter for sleep duration at oxygen saturation of less than 95 percent were nearly four times more likely than those in the lowest one-quarter to have small regions of dead tissue caused by lack of blood supply. Also known as microinfarcts, high levels of this dead tissue can lead to atrophy and other brain health issues.

"Prior studies have shown an association between certain types of sleep disturbance and dementia," said the lead author, an epidemiologist at the Veterans Administration in Hawaii, Dr. Rebecca Gelber. "These lesions may help explain the association."

In other words, the researchers found that poor sleep patterns can actually lead to negative health changes in the brain and might be associated with diseases like dementia. However, the study did not include any connections to Alzheimer​'s lesions or Lewy bodies.

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