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Home Industry News Getting less REM sleep ‘may increase risk of dementia’

Getting less REM sleep ‘may increase risk of dementia’

25th August 2017

The important role of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in cognitive health has been underlined by a new study showing how it can influence the risk of developing dementia.

Led by the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, the research indicated that getting less REM sleep over an extended period of time can make it more likely that dementia will develop.

REM sleep is a form of deep sleep associated with dreaming, rapid eye movements, increased brain activity, a higher body temperature, quicker pulse rates and faster breathing. The first REM stage occurs about 60 to 90 minutes into sleep.

For this study, 321 older people had their sleep habits tracked over 12 years, revealing that those who developed dementia spent an average of 17 percent of their sleep time in REM sleep, compared to 20 percent for those who did not develop dementia.

For every one percent reduction in REM sleep, there was a nine percent increase in the risk of dementia, even after adjusting for other potential contributory factors.

Study author Dr Matthew Pase, of Swinburne University of Technology, said: "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."

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