01 Sep 2017 - 2:03
Lack of rapid eye movement sleep tied to risk of dementia
Melbourne: A study by a Swinburne researcher has found that dementia in the elderly can be predicted by measuring rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
The study, published in the latest online issue of Neurology, found that for every percent that REM sleep was reduced in an elderly person, there was a nine-fold increase in the risk of them developing dementia.
Author, Dr Matthew Pase, says the findings point to REM sleep being a predictor of dementia. “Sleep disturbances are common in dementia but little is known about the various stages of sleep and whether they play a role in dementia risk”, Dr Pase said.
“We set out to discover which stages of sleep may be linked to dementia and while we did not find a link with deep sleep, we did with REM sleep.”
During the REM stage, the eyes move more rapidly and there is increased brain activity along with quicker pulse and faster breathing. This stage usually occurs about an hour to an hour-and-a-half into sleep and then recurs throughout the night as the cycles repeat.