Sleep and Mental Health

SleepIt’s always nice to get a good night’s sleep. But, could that shut eye hold an even more important health benefit? A new study suggests there is a link between the quality of sleep and the risk of dementia.


Seniors who spend less time each night in the dream stage of sleep may be more likely to succumb to dementia as they age, new research suggests.

Known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, this critical phase “occurs in intervals throughout the night, and is characterized by more dreaming and rapid eye movements,” explained study author Matthew Pase. He is a senior research fellow with Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, and a visiting researcher in the department of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine.

“We found that persons experiencing less REM sleep over the course of a night displayed an increased risk of developing dementia in the future,” Pase said. He noted that for every 1 percent drop in REM sleep, the seniors in his study saw their dementia and Alzheimer’s disease risk go up by about 9 percent.

According to, “The people who developed dementia spent an average of 17 percent of their sleep time in REM sleep, compared with 20 percent for those who did not develop dementia. The researchers found that for every 1-percent reduction in REM sleep, there was a 9-percent increase in the risk of dementia. The results held up even after the researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect dementia risk or poor sleep, such as heart disease, depression and medication use.”

CBS News put together a short video on sleep and the risk of dementia. You can watch it by clicking here or on the picture below.


MedPageToday quoted the study’s author, Matthew Pase, PhD, of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, as saying –

The next step will be to determine why lower REM sleep predicts a greater risk of dementia. By clarifying the role of sleep in the onset of dementia, the hope is to eventually identify possible ways to intervene so that dementia can be delayed or even prevented.”

Harvard Health listed tips to help you get a better night’s sleep that include:

  • Control noise. A quiet bedroom is especially important for older adults, who spend less time in deep sleep, and are more easily awakened by noises.
  • Dim bright light. Bright light at night can suppress your body’s production of melatonin and make it harder to sleep. Keep your pre-bedtime light intake down with these steps:
  • Embrace comfort. A bedroom that’s too hot or too cold may interfere with sleep. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool room (around 65° F). Also, replace a worn mattress and pillows.

So….if people accuse you of being a dreamer, let them know that might just be a good thing! And let us know what you think about this new study how we can all get a better night’s sleep. Generating meaningful dialogue around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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