Is lack of sleep connected to dementia?

Do you suffer from any of the following symptoms?

– poor memory
– foggy thinking
– anxiety
– restlessness
– fatigue

Although each of these symptoms may result from a myriad of imbalances in the mind, body, or spirit, a commonly associated problem is insufficient sleep.

According to a recent report, Alzheimer’s and/or Dementia, is on the rise in Canada. The prevalence of Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s in Canada is alarming. According to a recent statistic in 2011, 747 000 Canadians were living with some degree of cognitive impairment. That estimates 15% of Canadians aged 65 or older, are suffering from this condition. By 2031, if nothing changes with respect to prevention or treatment, this figure may increase to 1.4 million Canadians will be impacted.

Dementia is a debilitating disease that involves varying levels of brain tissue degeneration. Common symptoms include memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning. Thankfully thousands of researchers are investigating the risk factors and causes behind its development.

One strongly associated link with Alzheimer’s and Dementia showing up in literature is the amount of sleep one gets throughout their lifetime. A study completed at a medical university showed a direct correlation with sleeping 7 hours or less and brain degeneration. Click here to read a brief summary of the findings.

The exact purpose and benefit of sleep is not clearly understood in the medical community. However, the general consensus of most health care professionals is that although we don’t know exactly why we need adequate sleep, it is crucial to a healthy functioning body. All systems require this nightly reboot, including our cognitive, hormonal, cardiovascular, circulatory, neurological and immune systems. Nothing functions properly in the body without it. And over time insufficient sleep time may lead to chronic disease.

A neuroscientist, Jeff Lliff is asking the very question of why we need sleep, and outlines his findings in this fantastic TedTalk. Click here to watch a short video on the fascinating outcomes of his sleep research. 

If you or someone you love is suffering from poor sleep patterns, do not press snooze on the problem. It will only lead to more health problems down the road. It is important to recognize that sleeping medications or supplements only act as a Band-Aid, and do not fix the underlying cause. It is important to know the reasons why you may not be sleeping, and address those factors directly.