Get less than 6 hours sleep a night? You might be at a higher risk of dementia

We all know getting the right amount of sleep has a world of short-term benefits. But a new study says it goes way beyond feeling refreshed in the morning.

A lack of sleep has been shown to impact energy levels (duh), weight gain and mental health. But a new study has shown a consistent lack of sleep may present a higher risk of developing dementia.

Researchers tracked 8,000 people in Britain for about 25 years, beginning when they were 50 years old. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that those that regularly reported six hours or less of sleep a night were 30 percent more likely to develop dementia later in life than those that got seven hours or more. This was regardless of whether they had other health risks, like heart disease, poor diet, poor mental health, or smoking.

Researchers said it was unlikely that poor sleep was a symptom of early dementia, given the initial assessment of the study’s participants was conducted three decades prior.

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“These findings suggest that sleep duration might be a risk factor for dementia in later life,” Dr Séverine Sabia, an author of the study at the University of Paris, told The Guardian.

“I cannot tell you that sleep duration is a cause of dementia, but it may contribute to its development.”

One of the theories is that it could be due to the proteins that build up in the brain are flushed out during sleep, and when rest is interrupted this process is unable to happen.

Those pre-dementia protein build-ups are known to begin around 15 to 20 years before the person exhibits memory and cognition problems.

Dementia affects around one in 14 people over 65 and one in six people over the age of 80 yet it is not a normal part of ageing.

This information comes after another recent study found that severely disrupted sleep could nearly double a woman’s risk of dying from heart disease.