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The New York TImes

Could Poor Sleep Habits in Middle Age Be Driving Dementia?

The large British study of nearly 8,000 men and women is the strongest yet linking lack of sleep with cognitive disorders.

Scientists have long suspected that lack of sleep earlier in life might be a driver of dementia. Findings published this month in Nature Communications, seemed to support this theory. Over a 25 year period, researchers found that people who got less than seven hours of sleep during their 50s were 30% more likely to develop dementia in their 70s.  

But is sleep the cause of the dementia or a symptom of it.

"Pre-dementia brain changes like accumulations of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s are known to begin about 15 to 20 years before people exhibit memory and thinking problems, so sleep patterns within that time frame could be considered an emerging effect of the disease. That has posed a “chicken or egg question of which comes first, the sleep problem or the pathology,” said Dr. Erik Musiek, a neurologist and co-director of the Center on Biological Rhythms and Sleep at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved in the new research.

Check out this article in The New York Times to read more about this sleep study.