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An Association Between Bad Sleep Habits and Dementia



Difficulty carrying out basic daily duties, such as showering, doing laundry, or washing dishes.

Asking the same questions over and over, getting lost or roaming, changing their demeanor or conduct, or seeing things that aren’t there..

If any of this sounds similar, you may have Alzheimer’s disease, which is the sixth most common cause of death in the US, or someone you know may have the disease. It’s a condition that gradually kills brain cells, impairing thinking, behavior, and memory. In addition to making daily tasks challenging, it can seriously harm relationships at work, home, and in social situations.

Family members may also have hardships, as primary caretakers frequently experience physical and mental exhaustion. In addition, there are problems with money and a decline in social contact.

Approximately 7 million persons 65 years of age and older are thought to have Alzheimer’s disease. But the number of Americans suffering from dementia is rapidly increasing; by 2060, that number may reach 14 million. Dementia strikes African Americans twice as frequently as it does members of other ethnic groups. According to one survey, 21% of people over 70 had Alzheimer’s disease.

Even worse, according to half of African Americans, they have encountered prejudice when trying to get care for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. Eighty percent of respondents to a survey say they have delayed treating Alzheimer’s and associated dementias due to obstacles they face in accessing healthcare.

Things Can Worsen If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

There is growing research linking dementia, brain health, and sleep. Sleep is essential for the regeneration of some brain regions, and new research indicates that it also helps flush out toxins that accumulate while you’re awake.

According to a Harvard Medical School study, those 65 years of age or older who get less than five hours of sleep each night had twice the risk of developing dementia than people who get six to eight hours. In another study, which included 8,000 participants, sleeping for six hours or less at age 50, 60, and 70 was associated with a 30% higher risk of dementia.

More recently, Yale researchers looked at the brain pictures of around forty thousand middle-aged persons and discovered a correlation between sleep deprivation and brain lesions that predict dementia years in advance.

It’s still unclear exactly how sleep and Alzheimer’s disease are related. According to one idea, getting too little sleep prevents the brain from doing important housekeeping duties, like clearing out the proteins that cause dementia-related brain plaques.

Nevertheless, considering African Americans’ disproportionately greater prevalence of insomnia and sleep problems, these findings should be especially concerning to them. Black Americans report getting little or no sleep, almost twice as often as White people do. According to some surveys, 43% of African Americans report having problems falling asleep, compared to 30% of White people.

There are further negative aspects to this black-white sleep divide. People who lack sleep find it more difficult to learn, struggle to cope, and perform worse at work.

African Americans who consistently have poor sleep quality are also more vulnerable to other potentially fatal conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, weight gain, heart attacks, and stroke. Additionally, they are more susceptible to despair and anxiety.

Thus, the stakes are far higher than just Alzheimer’s.

Aspire To Better Evenings and Days

In an effort to understand why African Americans have a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease than other ethnic groups, research is intensifying.

However, far too many African Americans think that memory loss and cognitive decline are simply signs of aging rather than illnesses. In actuality, though, there are numerous things you can take to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

To begin with, take all reasonable steps to reduce inadequate sleep as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Additionally, you’ll be able to get the numerous advantages of regular, pleasant sleep as well as avoid the drawbacks of getting too little sleep.

Make sure you’re taking the proper steps to ensure that you get the greatest sleep possible each night. This means that you must maintain good sleep hygiene, which includes engaging in regular physical activity, making your bedroom conducive to sleep, adhering to a regular sleep schedule, creating a calming bedtime routine, and avoiding using devices after dark.

See a physician to rule out any underlying medical conditions that might be interfering with your sleep.

Other factors that can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s include controlling your blood pressure and diabetes, eating a heart-healthy diet, being active, stopping smoking, abstaining from excessive drinking, and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s true that treating and preventing hearing loss can be beneficial.

Additionally, research suggests that maintaining social and mental engagement can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.


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