If you’re having trouble sleeping, now may be the time to take action. A recent Canadian study suggests a correlation between insomnia and an increased chance of developing memory decline or dementia as we age. Postdoc Nathan Cross details these findings in his longitudinal research which also highlights psychological disorders as potential comorbidities for diminished mental health.
Through an extensive study involving more than 26,000 participants of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging aged 45-85, researchers have found a link between poor sleep quality and increased odds of subjective memory decline. Their findings were published in SLEEP journal after combining self-reported evaluations from 2019 with follow up assessments three years later in 2022.
The study revealed a direct correlation between insomnia disorder and impaired memory, with no other cognitive functions affected. This suggests that treating the sleep issue at its root could be an effective strategy for preserving mental acuity later in life.
Dr. Cross’ study is groundbreaking in both its massive data set and how it approaches sleep disorders. Insomnia is classified as a psychological disorder that requires difficulty falling asleep at least 3 nights a week over 3 months for an extended period of time. This can lead to cognitive fatigue during daytime hours. This study focused on three groups of people: those who experienced no issues with sleep initially, individuals showing signs of insomnia and those newly developing probable cases. Through such categorizations, the researchers were able to analyze how shifting states may impact overall health.
Analyzing the data of the 2022 follow-up revealed that those who reported poor sleep quality, or had a worsening of their symptoms were significantly more likely to show memory decline, greater levels of anxiety, depression, daytime exhaustion and breathing disruptions during rest. Furthermore, these same people are prone to smoking habitually as well having higher BMI scores, which all being major risk factors for cognitive loss & dementia. Even more striking was when researchers determined that men with sleeplessness fared worse on memory tests than women which suggests they may be predisposed towards higher risks associated with aging.
As we age, insomnia can become an unwelcome change. Fortunately, there is a silver lining: this sleep disorder has effective treatment options. By recognizing and treating the symptoms of insomnia early on in older adults’ lives, cognitive decline may be postponed or even avoided entirely.
Understanding this disease could lead to improved quality of life for millions worldwide who suffer from chronic sleeplessness. By tackling sleeplessness before it becomes worse, we may be able to reduce our risk of developing debilitating mental impairments later on in life!
To view the original scientific study click below:
Insomnia disorder increases the risk of subjective memory decline in middle-aged and older adults: a longitudinal analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging