Study: Surviving on lack of sleep in midlife linked to dementia

Apr 22, 2021, 5:35 PM
sleep dementia...
Now for the first time, tiny microelectrodes planted inside the brains of two people with epilepsy show just how the brain's neurons fire during sleep to "replay" our short-term memories in order to move them into more permanent storage. Photo: Shutterstock

SALT LAKE CITY — If you are cheating yourself out of a full night’s sleep and you’re middle-aged, you may be at a higher risk for dementia.

A new study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications followed nearly 8,000 people for 25 years and found a higher dementia risk with a “sleep duration of six hours or less at age 50 and 60” compared to those who slept seven hours.

Study finds lack of sleep may lead to dementia

Dave Noriega said he needs his solid eight hours of sleep every night, but Debbie Dujanovic said she gets by on a mere four hours. And she said that has been her sleep pattern since her college days.

“Personally, dementia scares me more than cancer,” Noriega said. “It truly does. I can’t think of anything worse than just slowly eroding away, mentally, and that’s terrifying.”

Dave pointed out to Debbie that a giraffe also only sleeps for four hours a night.

“Now Debbie’s not going to be happy until she goes full walrus,” he said. “A walrus sleeps two hours a day but can swim for 84 straight hours.”

Debbie thinks Dave just might be a wimp

 Dave suggested perhaps there’s a brag factor for people like Debbie who can push through the whole day on little sleep.

“Oh, you need eight hours of sleep. Yeah, I only need four,” he said, mimicking those who typically sleep fewer hours.

Debbie fired back, joking that Dave is a wimp because he needs to sleep eight hours a night.

“When you call me every morning as we get on our conference call for the show, I’ll say ‘Oh, how’d you sleep? ‘Good, got eight and a half hours of sleep.’ I’m thinking, you’re such a wimp,” Debbie said.

Dave said when he worked in the Sports Department he would regularly turn in at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. But when his schedule changed to mornings for their radio show, he had a wake-up moment one day.

“I had slept maybe for three or four hours. I came on air and my brain was in a fog. I couldn’t articulate. I was slurring. And it was a realization that: Holy cow, you can’t function, Dave,” he said. “Ever since that day, I made a commitment: I’m going to bed. I don’t care what’s going on in the home. At 9 o’clock, Dad goes to bed.”

Dave has insisted in the past that Debbie is a member of the Sleepless Elite.

According to between 1-3% of the global population are both naturally early risers and night owls. They only need six hours or fewer of sleep per day. They usually never use alarm clocks, sleep in late or take naps. The elite stay up late, wake up early and don’t have any problems going to sleep or staying asleep.

But Debbie said she took an online quiz to see if she was a Sleepless Elite member. She said she didn’t qualify as one because she takes the occasional nap. If you’re part of the Sleepless Elite club, you don’t take naps.

Take the Sleepless Elite quiz here.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Study: Surviving on lack of sleep in midlife linked to dementia