A new study published in JAMA Neurology suggests that a decline in deep sleep may serve as an early warning sign for dementia risk. Researchers found that a 1% annual decrease in deep sleep after age 60 was associated with a 27% higher risk of developing dementia over the next 17 years.
The study tracked sleep patterns and dementia onset in 346 adults over age 60 enrolled in the long-running Framingham Heart Study. Participants underwent two sleep studies an average of 5 years apart. The research team observed that deep sleep declined with aging. Even after adjusting for other factors, those with greater reductions in deep sleep were more likely to develop dementia during the follow-up period. The findings highlight the importance of deep sleep for clearing waste and toxins from the brain. Monitoring changes in deep sleep percentage with aging may help identify those at higher risk for cognitive decline. Read more details on the study in the latest Neuroscience News article.