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Mind & Mood
Will getting more sleep help protect me from dementia?
- By Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
Ask the doctor
Q. I get five to six hours of sleep a night. My doctor says that’s not enough, and that sleeping longer will protect me from developing dementia. Is there any truth to that?
A. Many published studies say that people who sleep less than seven hours a night or more than nine hours a night are more likely to develop various chronic diseases, including dementia, than people who sleep seven to nine hours a night. However, these studies have had weaknesses. Some did not include very many patients. Others really only studied how long people slept when they reached age 65, not how long they had been sleeping when they were younger. Other studies only lasted around 10 years, making it hard to draw conclusions about ultimate health effects. Finally, most of the studies simply accepted what the study participants said about how long they slept. And, sometimes, when we report on our healthy lifestyle practices, we tend to fib a little.
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