Do YOU have a ‘very irregular’ sleep pattern? Scientists claim you’re 53% more likely to get dementia

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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We all know that getting enough sleep is important for your brain.

But going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day is also linked to a lower risk of dementia, research suggests.

Scientists have discovered that getting very irregular sleep is associated with a 53 per cent higher risk of the disease.

We all know that getting enough sleep is important for your brain. But going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day is also linked to a lower risk of dementia, research suggests

And they advised that people who go to bed and wake up at different times each day should try to improve their sleep schedule – even moderately – in order to protect their brain health.

Author Matthew Pase, from Monash University in Melbourne, said: ‘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.

‘Our findings suggest the regularity of a person’s sleep is an important factor when considering a person’s risk of dementia.’

His team analysed data on 88,000 people with an average age of 62 in the UK, who were followed for around seven years.

Around 900,000 Brits are currently thought to have the memory-robbing disorder. But in October University College London scientists estimate this will rise to 1.7million within two decades as people live longer. It marks a 40 per cent uptick on the previous forecast in 2017

Around 900,000 Brits are currently thought to have the memory-robbing disorder. But in October University College London scientists estimate this will rise to 1.7million within two decades as people live longer. It marks a 40 per cent uptick on the previous forecast in 2017

But they can also be a sign of dementia ¿ the memory-robbing condition plaguing nearly 1million Brits and 7million Americans

But they can also be a sign of dementia — the memory-robbing condition plaguing nearly 1million Brits and 7million Americans

Participants wore a wrist device that measured their sleep cycle for a week, allowing researchers to calculate the regularity of their sleep.

A person who sleeps and wakes at the exact same times each day would have a sleep regularity index of 100, while a person who sleeps and wakes at different times every day would have a score of zero.

The scientists then looked at medical data and found 480 people developed dementia.

They discovered that, compared to those with an average sleep regularity index, the risk of dementia was highest for people who had the most irregular sleep.

People with the most irregular sleep had an average score of 41, compared to those who had the most regular sleep who had an average score of 71.

People in-between these two groups had an average sleep regularity score of 60.

After taking into account age, sex and genetic risk of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers found that those with the most irregular sleep were 53 per cent more likely to develop dementia than people in the middle group.

For people with the most regular sleep, researchers found they did not have a lower risk of developing dementia than people in the middle group.

‘Effective sleep health education combined with behavioural therapies can improve irregular sleep patterns,’ Mr Pase said.

‘Based on our findings, people with irregular sleep may only need to improve their sleep regularity to average levels, compared to very high levels, to prevent dementia.’

The findings were published in the journal Neurology.

WHAT IS DEMENTIA?

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of neurological disorders

A GLOBAL CONCERN 

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) which impact memory, thinking and behaviour. 

There are many types of dementia, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common.

Some people may have a combination of different types of dementia.

Regardless of which type is diagnosed, each person will experience dementia in their own unique way.

Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE AFFECTED?

The Alzheimer’s Society reports there are more than 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK today. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting between 50 and 75 per cent of those diagnosed.

In the US, it’s estimated there are 5.5 million Alzheimer’s sufferers. A similar percentage rise is expected in the coming years.

As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia.

Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.

IS THERE A CURE?

Currently there is no cure for dementia.

But new drugs can slow down its progression and the earlier it is spotted, the more effective treatments can be.

Source: Alzheimer’s Society 

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