Do Fewer Nightly Dreams Mean Higher Dementia Risk in Seniors?

A new study has determined that senior citizens who do not get enough sleep during the dream stage at night are more likely to develop dementia as they get older. The study explains that, by studying REM, they were able to determine that lower amounts of REM sleep are directly associated with the succumbing to dementia, claiming that for every 1% of decrease in REM sleep, there is a 9% increase in risk — and this includes both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

There are five different stages of sleep throughout the night which include light sleep, pre-deep sleep, two different stages of deep sleep, and REM sleep. Our eyes move at the most rapid pace during REM sleep, which is a cycle that repeats itself throughout the course of the night. The study took 321 men and women who were older than 60, and tracked their sleep cycles over the course of a single night. After that, the same patients were monitored over the course of 19 years in order to identify any signs of dementia. In the end, 32 of the participants ended up succumbing to dementia while 24 of them developed Alzheimer’s.

While and REM stages of sleep, doctors had determined that we have increased brain activity, a more rapid rate of breathing and pulse, and also an increased body temperature. But even though there was no link between the deep sleep patterns and dementia, there was a bearing between REM patterns and dementia. The study concluded that REM sleep is critically vital and detriment to brain function, and the neurological activities that only occur during REM sleep have a direct connection with memory and protection against mental illnesses.

Key Points:

  • 1There are two phases of sleep: non-REM and REM. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep sees higher brain activity and may protect against dementia.
  • 2Scientists just discovered a long-term positive correlation between lack of REM sleep and onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
  • 3Scientists still don’t fully understand why REM sleep is necessary and what it does for the brain. Figuring that out will lead to a better understanding of dementia.

We found that persons experiencing less REM sleep over the course of a night displayed an increased risk of developing dementia in the future

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