The Link Between Sleep and Dementia

Guest Blog

When you go in for a routine physical exam, you expect the doctor to check your weight and your blood pressure and ask if you’ve been experiencing any aches and pains, but in the coming years, you can add ‘asking about your sleep’ to the list. Unless they routinely experience sleep problems, most doctors don’t check up on their patients’ sleep habits, but in response to new research at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, doctors are seeing how sleep patterns may point to dementia and other disorders.

USA Today reports that currently there are an estimated 15.4 million Alzheimer’s patients in America, and that number is expected to rise to 16 million by 2050. Experts are trying to find ways to detect the disease as early as possible. People who get too little or too much sleep are now believed to be at risk according to one study in Business Week. Their brains showed changes that were equivalent to them having aged two years. Research leader, Elizabeth Devore, said that sleep pattern changes of two hours or more were linked to lower cognitive scores.

A French study of about 5,000 healthy French people, aged 65 and above, found that those who reported above average amounts of daytime sleepiness had a higher rate of mental decline, according to HealthDay of U.S. News. The fourth study took place at Washington University School of Medicine where researchers found that amyloid proteins are linked to sleep patterns. Those with dementia had higher levels of the protein in their blood.

Make sure you are getting enough, high-quality sleep by following these tips:

1) Create an Environment that Promotes Sleep

It is imperative that your bedroom is comfortable, quiet and conducive to sleep. You’ll want a comfortable mattress that allows you to rest well. Convenient mattress delivery options are available to rapidly deliver the bed of your dreams. Maintain a dark and cool room between 60 and 75 degrees for optimal comfort. Make sure there are no distractions like a phone, television or computer.

2) Don’t Eat or Exercise Before Bedtime

Eating a meal within four to six hours of going to bed can cause your stomach to be upset, thus making your night restless. Also avoid exercising within three hours of bedtime as it produces stimulating chemicals within your body.

3) Follow A Bedtime Routine

If you’re a parent, you probably have a solid bedtime routine in place for your kids. Bath, drink of water, brush teeth, read a few stories and then, lights out. This helps them to wind down and sets the stage for good sleep. The same holds true for adults. Keep it simple, and avoid stressful or stimulating activities.

4) Only Stay in Bed When You’re Tired

If it’s your bedtime but you can’t fall asleep, don’t stay in bed for longer than 20 minutes. Get up, go to another room and read a book, do some stretching or listen to relaxing music until you truly feel tired.

5) Keep Daytime Naps Short

If you feel that you need a little extra sleep during the daytime, limit your nap to 30 minutes or less. Napping between 12 and 2 in the afternoon can give you an energy boost and make you more productive, but catching a few winks after five o’clock can lead to poor sleep at night.

Start implementing these tips to help you get better, more restful sleep. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll likely be healthier and more productive as well. Since researchers are discovering a possible connection between sleep and aging disorders, there’s even more reason to get in a solid seven to nine hours of sleep a night.


Justin Greig A self-proclaimed “21st century hippie,” Justin studied Journalism at Berkeley and freelances for many environmental publications. He has a special interest in conservation, and he and his wife recently added solar panels to their home.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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