Insomnia refers to a sleep disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, and can even cause a person to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. In fact, insomnia makes you feel tired right after a person wake up.
According to a recent Canadian study, published in the journal SLEEP, older people with insomnia are at higher risk of developing memory decline and long-term cognitive impairment such as memory loss and dementia.
The research was based on data from more than 26,000 participants of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, all aged between 45 and 85. The researchers compared the completed self-reported evaluations of sleep and memory and neuropsychological. The testing were there in several cognitive domains from 2019 and a follow-up in 2022. It was noted that participants who reported worsening sleep quality in these three years also reported subjective memory decline.
"We found that insomnia especially was related to worse memory performance in comparison to those who have some insomnia symptoms alone or no sleep problems at all. This deficit in memory was specific, as we also looked at other cognitive function domains such as attention span and multi-tasking. We only found differences in memory, " said Nathan Cross, study's co-lead author, postdoctoral fellow at the Sleep, Cognition and Neuroimaging Lab.
The researchers grouped the participants into one of three categories for the study viz-a-viz those who reported no sleep problems at the 2019, those who had some insomnia symptoms and those who developed probable insomnia over the period. When they looked at the data from 2022 follow-up, those who had reported a worsening of sleep quality, from no symptoms to some or probable insomnia, or from some symptoms to probable insomnia were also more likely to report memory decline.
In addition, these participants also showed of anxiety, depression, daytime sleepiness, have breathing interruptions during sleep, other sleep-related issues, smoking and a greater body mass index (BMI) score.
"However, there is some good news that sleep disorders like insomnia can be treated. This highlights the importance of properly diagnosing and managing insomnia as early as possible in older adults and even youngsters. Adequately treating insomnia disorder might become an important preventive measure for cognitive decline and mitigate the incidence of dementia in later span of life," Cross added.