Medical News Today reports that 55 million people around the world are living with dementia — the impaired inability to think, remember, or make decisions that impacts everyday activities. Many poor lifestyle choices can contribute to this condition, especially inadequate sleep.
A recent study says that as little as a 1% reduction in deep sleep each year for people over 60 years of age equals a 27% increased risk of developing this life-changing condition. Since this is a modifiable risk factor for dementia, let’s look at what deep sleep is, the link between dementia and sleep habits, and some solutions to this problem.
Deep Sleep is Important
As you age and look to improve your health with better nutrition and movement you can participate on most days, adequate sleep needs to make it onto the list as well.
Most sleep experts agree that you should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night. A lot happens during this time without you even thinking about it. Three cycles of non-REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and one of REM sleep occur each night. As you fall asleep, the first two non-REM cycles occur. The third non-REM cycle is also known as deep sleep.
Deep sleep is the longest of the three non-REM cycles. Brain waves become slower, heart rate and breathing slows. It is a pretty important time in the sleep cycle. This stage helps remove metabolic waste from the brain, replenishes its energy, builds and repairs muscles, bones and tissues, and also combines memories. This stage also protects you from high blood pressure, a dementia risk factor.
Dementia Risks and Deep Sleep
It should come as no surprise that if good deep sleep helps your body accomplish so many important tasks, poor deep sleep will negatively affect your body. Researchers in the area of sleep studies admit that there aren’t readily available curative treatments to stop or reverse dementia permanently. The bigger area that they focus on is preventing dementia in the first place starting with lifestyle choices.
Practices to Prevent Dementia
- Physical activity
- Good nutrition
- Less alcohol
- Don’t smoke
- Stay mentally and socially active
- Get good sleep
How to Get Better Sleep
Look at your sleep habits and see if they need improving to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Check out my blog on 7 Ways to Get Better Sleep in Midlife for more information as well as the suggestions below.
- Reduce stress in your life
- Sleep in a cooler room and try these cooling sheets that work wonders to keep you cool. (Give you husband a blanket if needed).
- Decrease caffeine after 12 noon
- Avoid screen time one hour before bed
- Filter out blue light and consider charging your phone in another room overnight
All day you receive information inputs that strengthen the synapses, or points of communication, in your brain. Understandably, your brain cannot take on information continually without rest. Get the proper sleep you need to be ready for each day that you deserve to remember.
Reach out if you would like more support to help you at this time in your life. You deserve to truly thrive and not just survive!
I’m a registered nurse for over 24 years with a Masters Degree in Nursing (Education). I am also a Certified Women’s Health Coach specializing in helping women navigate changing hormones in their 30s and beyond after my own difficult experience through menopause. I believe women should truly thrive in midlife and not just survive!