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Sleep Problems And Dementia

Sleep Problems and Dementia RiskDid you know that this week is “Sleep Awareness Week“?  Sleep awareness week starts March 2nd and ends on the 8th with daylight savings time, when we all spring forward.  Here's what The National Sleep Foundation says about Sleep Awareness Week:  “Sleep Awareness Week is an annual public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep. The week begins with the announcement of the National Sleep Foundation's Sleep in America poll results and ends with the clock change to Daylight Saving Time, where Americans lose one hour of sleep.

Sleep Deprivation and Dementia Risk

As part of sleep awareness week we wanted to discuss a few very important topics with you.  The first is the role that sleep deprivation can have on Dementia risk.  Sarah Stevenson wrote a great article recently for A Place For Mom's “Senior Living Blog”.  It's entitled Hard Facts About Sleep Problems in the Elderly.  In her article Sarah discusses the link between sleep deprivation and insomnia on dementia risk.  She writes; “Unfortunately, older adults are more likely to have health issues that disturb their sleep, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. A 2011 study at the University of California, San Francisco, showed a clear association between sleep-disordered breathing in older women and the risk of cognitive impairment.”  That means that a good night sleep doesn't just feel good the next morning… It is good for you, and your cognitive health!

Sundowning

Another very interesting sleep related issue to be aware of (especially for Alzheimer's sufferers) is called sundowning.  HealthLine describes sundowning as “A symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Confusion and agitation worsen in the late afternoon and evening, or as the sun goes down. Symptoms are less pronounced earlier in the day.”  Sarah Stevenson believes that sleep disruptions are one of the factors that contribute to sundowning in those with cognitive impairment, and we're inclined to agree with her.

Sleep problems and dementia are 2 big issues facing aging adults today, and it's important to be aware of some of the signs and symptoms.  If you have more questions about sleep related issues and your health, contact the National Sleep Foundation at NationalSleepFoundation.org.  For more information on Alzheimer's Disease visit the Alzheimer's Association at alz.org.

Photo credit: National Sleep Foundation

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