Could an Insomnia Diagnosis Portend Dementia?

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Insomnia is not helpful for the brain.

Quality and quantity of sleep are both considered health indicators.

Although it is normal for people to occasionally have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, a pattern of poor sleep can be a cause for concern.

Insomnia can be a symptom of a number of issues.

According to a recent Sci Tech Daily article titled “Insomnia Increases the Risk of Dementia in Older Adults,” these include dementia or other cognitive impairments.

Insomnia is a diagnosable disorder.
Insomnia may be a symptom of other health issues.

Recent research published in the journal SLEEP highlighted this connection using data from more than 26,000 individuals aged 45 to 85 from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging.

The study was co-lead by Nathan Cross, a postdoctoral fellow at the Sleep, Cognition Neuroimaging Lab, and Jean-Louis Zhao from the University of Montreal.

Other contributors included Thanh Dang-Vu and Lisa Kakinami as the PERFORM Centre, Ronald Postuma and Chun Yao from McGill University, and Nadia Gosselin and Julie Carrier from the University of Montreal.

The researchers for the study compared neurological testing taken in 2019 and in 2022 from participants to their self-reported assessments for memory and sleep.

What were the findings?

Those who had reported poor sleep during those three years tended to have greater subjective memory deterioration.

Although researchers looked at other cognitive functions and compared them to sleep, they only found a noticeable difference in memory.

The benefits of this insomnia study included the large size of the data set and the focus on sleep disorders.

Insomnia is one of the sleep-wake disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Participants in the study were organized into categories based on their responses.

These included “those who reported no sleep issues at the baseline in 2019”, “those who experienced some symptoms of insomnia”, and “those who developed probable insomnia.”

Those who reported a decline in sleep quality between 2019 and 2022 were more likely to identify memory loss themselves or have a physician identify memory loss.

These individuals also demonstrated a greater prevalence of depression, anxiety, smoking, high body mass index score, breathing interruptions during sleep, and other sleep related issues.

The study found women who had insomnia tended to perform better on memory tests than the men with insomnia.

While inconclusive, this may indicate men are at greater risk.

If you experience insomnia, talk with your doctor.

This sleep disorder can be treated and managed.

Although other factors contribute to memory loss and dementia, treatment insomnia may reduce the risk of dementia in later life.

Reference:  Sci Tech Daily (Sep. 27, 2022) “Insomnia Increases the Risk of Dementia in Older Adults”

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