New York: Older adults who struggle to fall asleep and experience frequent night awakenings are at high risk for developing dementia or dying early from any cause, a new study suggests.
The findings, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, indicated that people who reported routinely experiencing difficulty falling asleep had a 49 per cent increased risk of dementia.
And those who often woke in the night and had difficulty falling back asleep had a 39 per cent increased risk of dementia, reports CNN.
“We found a strong association between frequent difficulty falling asleep and nighttime awakenings and dementia and early death from any cause, even after we controlled for things like depression, sex, income, education and chronic conditions,” said researcher Rebecca Robbins from Harvard Medical School.
For the study, the team analysed data collected by the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), which conducts annual in-person interviews with a nationally representative sample of 6,376 Medicare beneficiaries.
Data from between 2011 and 2018 were examined for the new study, with a focus on people in the highest risk category — those who said they had sleep issues “most nights or almost every night”.
Self-reported sleep difficulties by participants in the study were then compared to each participant’s medical records.
The study found that people who had trouble falling asleep most nights had about a 44 per cent increased risk of early death from any cause.
Those who said they often woke in the night and struggled to return to sleep had a somewhat higher risk — a 56 per cent increased risk of early death from any cause.
“These results contribute to existing knowledge that sleep plays a very important role, every night, for reducing our long term risk for neural cognitive decline and all-cause mortality,” said Robbins.