Story at a glance:

  • There is a correlation between six hours or less of sleep and getting dementia in your 50s, 60s, and 70s, study shows.
    • Sleep prevents toxins in your brain from building up.
    • Lack of sleep has been linked to cancer, low testosterone and a weakened immune system.

Middle-aged people who sleep six hours or less have a higher likelihood of developing dementia, a new study suggests.

Research data were collected from about 8,000 people when they were 50 in the year 1985, and for 25 years of their lives. Of those, 521 developed dementia.

The U.K. study published in Nature Communications said that those who slept six hours or less from their 50s to 70s had a 30 percent greater risk for dementia than those who slept seven or more hours, Business Insider reported.


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Bear in mind, the average age to be diagnosed with dementia is 77, and doctors generally agree that seven to nine hours of rest is good for the brain, Business Insider also reported.

Sleep helps restore the brain by cleaning toxins that build up during waking hours, and these toxins have the potential of creating health problems and diseases. 

"It is a solid piece of research adding to the growing evidence for a link between sleep and dementia," professor Derk-Jan Dijk of sleep and physiology at the University of Surrey, said in a statement.

Lack of sleep decreases male testosterone, affects the immune system, and increases the chances of getting cancer, Business Insider reported.

"Diseases that cause dementia start up to two decades before symptoms like memory loss start to show, so midlife is a crucial time for research into risk factors," Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said in a statement

One limitation of the new study is that sleep was self reported, which can lead to bias.


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Published on Apr 21, 2021