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A Good Night's Sleep May Help Prevent Cognitive Decline

Researchers with the University of California, San Francisco have released a study that suggests a link between sleep-disordered breathing and the development of dementia. According to their findings, improved sleep patterns could prevent or delay the onset of dementia as people mature.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on August 17, 2011.

298 women with a mean age of 82.3 years who were not suffering from dementia participated in the study. For two years, the scientists measured overnight polysomnography, which is an overnight recording of the participant’s sleep. If more than 15 sleep disturbances occurred per hour, the women were considered to have sleep-disordered breathing.

After controlling for genetic and lifestyle factors, the scientists found that the 105 women with sleep-disordered breathing were almost 14% more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment or dementia than the 193 women without sleep-disordered breathing.

Getting a good night’s sleep may not be the only natural way to possibly prevent the onset of cognitive decline. An animal study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that regular exercise may increase the brain’s ability to protect itself during aging

Lifestyle factors play an important role in the risk of dementia . Here are some small lifestyle changes that may make a big difference:

• Eating a brain-healthy diet that includes foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.

• Keeping your mind active by attending social events or solving puzzles.

• Sleeping regularly and restfully

• Learning to relax

• Doing moderate intensity exercises like walking, biking or yoga 3 times a week

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