A recent study discovered that people with extremely erratic sleep habits may be at a higher risk of acquiring dementia.
The results, which were released on Wednesday in the journal Neurology, showed that a person’s regularity of sleep—that is, their ability to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day—is a significant risk factor for dementia.
According to Australian study author Matthew Paul Pase of Monash University, “sleep health recommendations often focus on getting the recommended amount of sleep, which is seven to nine hours a night, but there is less emphasis on maintaining regular sleep schedules.”
Though erratic sleep has been connected in the past to heart health and metabolic disorders, its relationship to incident dementia is yet unknown.
In the most recent study, researchers evaluated the health information of more than 88,000 UK citizens, who were followed for an average of seven years and had an average age of 62.
Researchers used information from a wrist gadget the individuals wore to measure their sleep cycle for around a week to calculate the regularity of their sleep, or their daily consistency in sleep-wake cycles.
Over the course of seven days, they calculated the average probability that each participant would be in the same sleep state—asleep or awake—at any two time intervals separated by 24 hours.
Individuals who went to bed and woke up at the same time every day scored zero on the sleep regularity index, compared to 100 for those who went to bed and woke up at different times.
In the study, over 480 participants experienced dementia.
Researchers that looked into the relationship between sleep regularity scores and dementia risk discovered that people with the most irregular sleep had the highest chance of developing the neurological disorder.
With an average score of 41, those in the lowest fifth percentile experienced the most inconsistent sleep, whilst those in the highest 95th percentile experienced the most regular sleep, with an average score of 71.
The study found that the average sleep regularity score of the participants in these two groups was 60.
Our research suggests that, rather than needing to increase sleep regularity to extremely high levels, those with irregular sleep patterns may just need to do so to an average degree in order to avoid dementia. To validate our findings, more research is required, according to Dr. Pase.
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