Deep Sleep May Help Prevent Dementia as We Age


When it comes to brain health and strengthening memories, a good night’s rest is essential. New research highlights how important slumber is for older adults, finding that enhancing or maintaining deep sleep — also known as slow-wave sleep — could stave off dementia.

The study, published Monday in JAMA Neurology, indicates that people over 60 years old who experience as little as a 1 percent reduction in their deep sleep per year may face a 27 percent higher likelihood of developing impairment in memory, thinking, and the ability to make decisions.

“We know that the slow-wave sleep is critically important, and for an aging brain, it supports memory consolidation and helps to flush the brain of toxins that accumulate when we’re awake,” says lead study author Matthew Pase, PhD, an associate professor at the Monash School of Psychological Sciences and the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia.

“We found that as people aged, however, the amount of deep, restorative stages of sleep declined, and those who had greater declines in slow-wave sleep had a high risk of going on to get dementia.”


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