Your bedtime and DREAMS can predict your dementia risk, scientists say | The Sun

YOUR sleep habits can actually predict how likely you are to develop brain-wasting condition dementia, experts have said.

For years, scientists have believed that a good night's sleep is key to preventing the deadly condition.

They also thought dreaming was a sign of good brain health.

But now, two new studies have thrown our understanding of sleep health on its head.

Sleep experts from China and Sweden have said the time older people hit the hay and the amount of time they sleep for, may be a good indicator of dementia risk.

Dementia is a condition that refers to a group of deadly disorders affecting brain functioning, such as memory, language and problem-solving.

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There are many different types of the debilitating condition, and one of the most common forms is Alzheimer's disease.

It is currently one of the leading causes of death in the world, with around 55 million people currently living with the condition.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society revealed that the risk of dementia was 69 per cent higher in those who slept for more than eight hours.

This was compared with those who slept between seven and eight.

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This risk developing the fatal condition was also twice as high for those who went to bed before 9pm – versus 10pm or later.

The study involved researchers following sleeping habits and cases of dementia among a select 2,000 men and women for four years.

Researchers did not suggest why going to bed earlier and sleeping longer pointed to a higher risk of dementia.

However, previous studies have found that changes to sleep cycles are common features of dementia and are likely related to disrupted brain pathways that regulate sleep-wake cycles.

“This suggests that cognitive function should be monitored in older adults who report prolonged time in bed and advanced sleep timing,” the authors wrote.

It's important to remember that getting enough good quality sleep is vital to keep your brain healthy.

Meanwhile, another study has found that middle age people who experience frequent nightmares are more likely to be diagnosed with dementia later in life.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham, found that bad dreams could become more common several years or even decades before brain problems set in.

The main signs of dementia you need to know

The symptoms of dementia progress slowly over several years. Often, the symptoms are confused with other conditions and may initially be put down to old age.

  • Memory: Regularly forgetting recent events, names and faces.
  • Repetition: Becoming increasingly repetitive.
  • Misplacing things: Regularly misplacing items or putting them in odd places.
  • Confusion: Not sure of the date or time of day.
  • Disorientation: People might be unsure of their whereabouts or get lost, particularly in unfamiliar places.
  • Language: Problems finding the right words.
  • Mood and behaviour: Some people become low in mood, anxious or irritable

Interestingly, men are particularly at risk, the experts said.

The findings, published in the Lancet, revealed that middle-aged people – 35 to 64 – who had nightmares on a weekly basis were four times more likely to suffer cognitive decline over the following decade.

While adults over the age of 79 were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia.

Dr Abidemi Otaiku, from the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health, who carried out the new research, said: "This [study] is important because there are very few risk indicators for dementia that can be identified as early as middle age.

“While more work needs to be done to confirm these links, we believe bad dreams could be a useful way to identify individuals at high risk of developing dementia, and put in place strategies to slow down the onset of disease," she added.

A different study has recently revealed the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease almost doubles in older people for up to one-year after having Covid.

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The research found people over 65 are between 50 to 80 per cent more likely to develop the brain disease after catching Covid than those who don't.

Experts do not know if Covid itself triggers the disease or if the virus just accelerates the onset of Alzheimer’s in people who were always going to develop it.

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