New study finds getting less than 6 hours of sleep raises your risk of dementia

You should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, but Americans historically don't put enough emphasis on sleep

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN)- A new study found that not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of dementia.

The study, published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, found that sleeping less than six hours a night in midlife can heighten the risk of developing dementia–a loss of cognitive functioning, like thinking, remembering, and reasoning–by 30%.

“According to this study, quantity [of sleep] really matters,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent, and a board-certified OBGYN, who was not involved in the study.

In the study, they followed about 8,000 adults in Britain starting at the age of 50 years old for more than two decades. Researchers discovered that most rates of dementia happen in those who slept on average about seven hours per night and increased by 30% those who only got six hours or less a night.

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“Measurement of sleep duration at age 50, 60, and 70 years along with a change in sleep duration over this period provides consistent results for increased risk of dementia in those with short sleep,” researchers wrote. “A further key finding is that the association between short sleep duration and dementia is not attributable to mental health.”

“Public health messages to encourage good sleep hygiene may be particularly important for people at a higher risk of dementia,” the researchers concluded.

Dr. Ashton also says that the amount of sleep a person gets is not a “one-size-fits-all” answer, noting that Americans in particular have historically not put enough emphasis on sleep.

“We’ve said before that sleep has a [public relations] problem in this country,” she said. “We think of it as a luxury but it’s really a medical necessity.”

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According to the CDC, infants and toddlers should get between 11-16 hours of sleep a night, elementary school kids should get between 9-12 hours, teenagers should get 8-10 hours, and adults 18 years and older should get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night.

“What’s really important is that you can’t make up for [sleep] on the weekend,” said Ashton. “So it really has to be every single night.”

Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep? Check out some of our sleep tips! 

Categories: Health, News