In a new study, researchers found chronic sleep loss due to insomnia is strongly linked to memory problems and cognitive issues.
The harmful effect strongly exists in people aged 45 and over.
The research was conducted by a team from Concordia University.
Chronic insomnia disorder affects about 10% of adults in the world. It is one of the most common sleep disorders.
Patients usually have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week for over three months with an impact on daytime functioning such as mood, attention, and daytime concentration.
Previous research has shown links between insomnia and cognitive problems.
However, these studies were mainly conducted on a limited number of patients suffering from insomnia, and the results are not always consistent from study to study.
In addition, chronic insomnia is often linked to other health issues such as anxiety or chronic pain that can also affect cognitive function.
This makes it difficult to determine the direct effect of insomnia on these cognitive problems.
In the study, the team analyzed sleep data from the pan-Canadian cohort of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging.
They examined data from 28,485 participants aged 45 and over who come from many cities across Canada, including Montreal.
They found that people in the chronic insomnia group performed much worse on the memory tests compared to those from the other two groups.
The main type of memory affected was declarative memory—the memory of items and events.
The team suggests that the harmful effect was strong even after accounting for other factors.
Future work needs to better understand this relationship between poor sleep and cognitive problems.
The study leader is Dang-Vu, an associate professor in the Department of Health.
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