The quality of your sleep could be a reliable indicator for predicting possible cognitive disorders. In any case, this is what an American study reveals, which suggests an association between certain sleep disorders at age 30 or 40 and cognitive decline a decade later. A discovery which could ultimately make it possible to detect certain neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, at an early stage, or even improve their prevention.
People who have disrupted sleep at the ages of 30 and 40 are more likely to develop memory problems and see their cognitive performance decline ten years later. These are the findings of a study published online in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Be careful, however, it is not the quantity of sleep that is linked to cognitive decline, but the quality of it, as specified by the researchers behind this work.
Sleep quality (more than quantity) influences cognitive health
“Because signs of Alzheimer’s disease begin to accumulate in the brain decades before symptoms appear, understanding the link between sleep and cognition early in life is essential to understanding the role of sleep disorders as a risk factor for the disease. Our results indicate that it is the quality rather than the quantity of sleep that matters most for cognitive health in middle age.“, explains Yue Leng, epidemiologist at the University of California at San Francisco, in a press release.
This work is based on the analysis of the duration and quality of sleep of 526 people aged on average 40 years, followed for eleven years. Asked to wear a wrist activity monitor for three consecutive days on two occasions, one year apart, participants were also asked to provide information on the times they went to bed and got up, and answer a questionnaire. on the quality of their sleep, and carry out a series of memory and thinking tests. Among the main lessons of this research, the scientists indicate that 46% of the participants declared having slept poorly, and that all of the people monitored presented sleep fragmentation – which is based on short and repeated interruptions of sleep – of the order of 19%.
A risk multiplied by two
After dividing participants into three groups based on their personal sleep fragmentation score, the researchers observed that 44 of the 175 people with the most disrupted sleep had “poor cognitive performance“, compared to only 10 of the 176 people whose sleep was the least disturbed.”After adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, and education, people whose sleep was most disrupted were more than twice as likely to have poor cognitive performance as those whose sleep was most disrupted. sleep was least disturbed“, specifies the study.
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An association not a causal link!
The study has numerous limitations, starting with the sample size which remains small. The researchers also point out that “study does not prove sleep quality causes cognitive decline“, more “only shows an association“They now hope to be able to conduct more in-depth research, with a larger sample, in order to highlight a potential association between sleep disorders and cognition at various stages of life.”Future studies could open new avenues for preventing Alzheimer’s disease later in life“, conclut Yue Leng.