Chances are you probably know a few people who don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. Such people are unsurprisingly sluggish during the daytime hours. Besides giving you enough energy to function during the day, adequate sleep might also help to keep your brain firing on all cylinders.
Less Sleep, More Problems?
According to research published in the journal Nature Communications, older adults who skimp on sleep could put themselves at risk of later developing dementia. This report cast a wide net, tracking the sleeping patterns and mental health of approximately 8,000 adults living in Great Britain. At the beginning of the study, the participants were about 50 years old on average. The study authors kept tabs on this group for nearly 25 years.
Upon reviewing the data gathered from these subjects, the research team found that dementia was more likely to develop in adults with lower levels of reported sleep. Specifically, compared to participants who slept 7 or more hours nightly, adults who averaged six or less hours of sleep per night faced a 30 percent greater risk of dementia.
Too Little Time
One of the study’s contributors, Dr. Abhinav Singh, stated that his team’s work highlights the importance of sleep in maintaining mental health. “We’ve discovered that sleep and memory consolidation are related. It is during different sleep stages and their cycling that new memories and information are processed, the excess and negative memories are removed, and the archiving of contextual memories take place,” stated Singh in an interview with the website Healthline.
When people fail to get enough sleep, their brains simply lack the time to process and store important information. “Emotional memory processing also takes place during our sleep cycles,” noted Singh. “The last two hours of sleep are rich with REM sleep, and more evidence is coming that this is an important phase of sleep that helps us with memory consolidation and emotional memory. And if you deprive yourself of these last two hours, you are going to impair that process.”