Frequent Night Awakenings Linked To Increased Risk Of Cognitive Decline And Dementia In Older People

By Snow, Parent Herald January 21, 06:16 am

A new study shows that older people who don't get a deep and continuous sleep are at a higher risk of suffering from dementia and cognitive decline. This is due to the hardening of the brain's blood vessels and starving the brain tissue from oxygen, which result to frequent awakenings at night.

In a report by Yahoo News, the author of the study, Dr. Andrew Lim, a neurologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, Toronto said, "The forms of brain injury that we observed are important because they may not only contribute to the risk of stroke but also to chronic progressive cognitive and motor impairment."

The study involved 315 people with an average age of 90 years old. It focused on the brain activities of these people when they were still alive, 70 percent of whom were women.

The result of the study showed that 61 percent of them had damaged blood vessels in their brain, while 29 percent had a stroke. Those with constant sleep interruptions were at a higher risk of 27 percent of having hardened arteries as compared to those who sleep continuously.

In terms of damage to brain tissue, those with interrupted sleep were at a higher risk of 31 percent vis-a-vis to those who get to sleep without any interruption.

Dr. Lim said in a recent report published by the American Heart Association, "There are several ways to view these findings: sleep fragmentation may impair the circulation of blood to the brain, poor circulation of blood to the brain may cause sleep fragmentation, or both may be caused by another underlying risk factor."

While there are still areas in the study that need further clarification, it is safe to conclude that through sleep monitoring, seniors who are at risk of a potential stroke may be identified. Hence, proper precaution must be taken at the soonest possible time.

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