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Short sleep in midlife may be an early warning sign of dementia


Key points from article :

People who regularly sleep for six hours or less each night in middle age are more likely to develop dementia.

Sleep is known to clear toxic waste from the brain.

Persistent poor sleep may contribute to the neurodegenerative disease.

“I cannot tell sleep duration is a cause of dementia but it may contribute to its development," - Séverine Sabia, study co-author.

Analysed nearly 8,000 participants who self-reported their sleep patterns.

Found a 30% greater risk of dementia in those who during their 50s, 60s and 70s consistently had a short night’s sleep.

Pathological changes that lead to dementia occur one to two decades before, as amyloid and tau build up in the brain.

"Poor sleep might be a very early symptom, rather than a treatable risk factor," - Robert Howard, Professor of old age psychiatry.

“Insomniacs shouldn’t worry that they are heading for dementia unless they get off to sleep immediately,” - Howard.

Study by Université de Paris, UCL published in Nature Communications.

Sleeping for less than 6 hours in middle age could cause or increase the risk of dementia by 30%

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Journal covering all topics in physics, chemistry, and biology.


Public research university in Paris, France.


Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at UCL.


Research associate at the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London


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