16:34 GMT16 May 2021
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    While not considered a specific disease, dementia is considered a group of conditions that are defined as the impairment of at least two brain functions, such as memory loss and limited social skills. The World Health Organization estimates that about 50 million people around the world suffer from the condition.

    Middle-age adults, specifically those aged between 50 and 60, who sleep six hours or less may be at a greater risk of being diagnosed with dementia as they grow older, a new study has found.

    Published in the journal Nature Communications, the study determined that 50-year-olds who sleep six hours or less every night have about a 22% greater risk at developing dementia, whereas 60-year-olds were 37% more likely to be diagnosed.

    The data was compared against individuals who managed to get at least seven hours’ of sleep each night. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that adults aged 60 and older should obtain between seven hours and nine hours of sleep.

    Researchers came to the conclusion by analyzing the data that was obtained through a long term study reporting the sleep habits of nearly 8,000 adults in the UK. Started in 1985, the database collects fresh information from participants every four to five years.

    Although much of the base survey information is based on self-reports from participants, researchers from the Tuesday-published study used sleep trackers to confirm that data was accurate.

    Officials also adjusted their findings for several behaviors and characteristics, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, marital status, diabetes, fitness level and cardiovascular diseases, among other factors.

    “Even though we can’t say sleep duration has a causal impact on dementia, it would be good to encourage good sleep hygiene,” lead study author Séverine Sabia, who also serves as an epidemiologist at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, said in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

    In light of the findings, Sabia is urging the public to practice better sleep habits and to implement a bedtime routine that promotes healthy sleep, such as steering clear of cellphones and cutting down on TV time before bed. 

    The research came one day after a study published in the European Heart Journal on Monday revealed that severely disrupted sleep patterns could double the chances of a woman dying from heart disease.

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    Study, Sleep, dementia
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