Middle Age Sleep Problems Tied To Cognitive Issues Later In Life

According to a new study published in the journal Sleep Medicine, people who struggle with sleep disturbances when they are in midlife may be at an increased risk of developing a cognitive impairment in their later years.

For the study, researchers pooled data from four different previous studies in which participants self-reported on any experiences with insomnia, nightmares and general sleep problems. Plus, older participants took the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) to determine their cognitive status.

The researchers concluded: “Sleep disturbances and midlife nightmares were associated with lower MMSE scores, which suggests that sleep disturbances in earlier life stages can be associated with worse late-life cognition.

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

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Translation: People who slept without interruption in midlife were less likely to have cognitive decline later in life than the people who had insomnia, nightmares, or sleep disturbance issues. So, the researchers are suggesting there might be a link between the two.

The research didn’t establish a firm cause-and-effect relationship between bad sleep and cognitive decline, so there’s no need to panic. The study merely offers food for thought. If you do happen to experience nightmares or insomnia, it may be worth meeting with your physician or a sleep coach to talk through a few options so you can get better rest at night.

“While sleep disturbances are an important risk factor for cognitive decline, the good news is that it is a modifiable risk factor,” lead study author Shireen Sindi told Reuters. “We can all have occasional sleeping difficulties, either due to high stress levels, caffeine or alcohol consumption or due to jet lag.

However, if a person experiences sleep disturbances on a chronic basis such as difficulties falling asleep, waking up during the middle of the night, waking up too early in the morning, or suffering from poor sleep quality, it is important to seek help from a health professional.”

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

Featured image: Koldunov/Shutterstock

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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