There is so much we can do from a lifestyle perspective to help safeguard our brains against declining function. And certainly getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important choices a person can make to help preserve and protect this vital organ. In October 2020, I wrote a piece on the relationship between sleep duration and cognitive decline, and it was based on a very large study performed in England. This study demonstrated that there was risk for cognitive decline with not enough sleep as well as too much sleep. And it concluded that between 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night is the “sweet spot” in terms of being related to the least risk for cognitive decline.
This week, a new study published in the journal Nature Communications entitled “Association of sleep duration in middle and old age with incidence of dementia” reviewed data from close to 8,000 participants over a 25-year period of time. They demonstrated that there was higher risk for developing dementia with sleep duration of six hours or less at specific ages of 50, 60, and 70 years. The findings of the study showed the risk for actually developing dementia was increased by 30% in all three age categories. To be sure, these findings were independent of sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and mental health factors.
Interestingly, in contrast to the study I quoted last year, these researchers did not find strong evidence that longer sleep duration is associated with dementia risk. In fact, there were very few individuals in the study who actually experienced long sleep duration so this was difficult to evaluate. Continue reading
By the Dr. Perlmutter Team
When asked what supplements I recommend for optimal health, I occasionally reply, “sleep.” Sleep is powerful on so many levels in terms of health outcomes. We know that sleep duration and quality impact inflammation, what and how much we eat, hormone balance, decision-making, mood states, and much more.
An interesting study on sleep recently appeared in one of the publications of the American Medical Association called JAMA Network Open. The researchers behind the study sought to investigate the association between sleep duration and cognitive decline. They analyzed data from 20,065 total participants in two cohort studies, one in the United Kingdom, The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), and one in China, the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). The ELSA sample included people 50 years or older and the CHARLS sample included people 45 years or older. Continue reading
Over the past decade we have been vigorously promoting the concept of Alzheimer’s prevention. Alzheimer’s disease is devastating, not just for the patient, but for families and loved ones as well. And let me be candid: watching my father succumb to Alzheimer’s was the most emotionally challenging experience of my life. Not only that, it also served to strengthen my resolve to do whatever I can to continue to raise awareness of the science that supports the notion that our lifestyle choices do indeed play an important role in determining our risk for this disease – a disease for which there is no meaningful treatment whatsoever. Continue reading
There’s so much information that we are exposed to day in and day out focused on what we should be eating. But lately there seems to be an important shift in the conversation to trying to understand when we should eat. Truthfully, we had always thought that to be healthy we should be following the “three meals a day” rule, with special emphasis on breakfast since it was thought to be “the most important meal of the day.” But, gratefully, well-respected researchers are now challenging these ideas. Continue reading
By Dr. Austin Perlmutter
In the wake of the global spread of the 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us have started to think more carefully about our health. How can we reduce our risk of infection and of infecting others? How can we improve our immune function? What might the virus do to our lungs, heart and blood vessels? But while these questions are very important, it’s also critical to consider how a pandemic affects our brains and how to guard them against this damage. Specifically, we need to be considering strategies to protect our mental and cognitive health.
We’ve long known that mental health suffers in periods of high stress. So it’s no surprise that the current pandemic has been linked to a spike in feelings of anxiety and depression. A troubling May 2020 survey reported that over 34% of Americans are now experiencing these symptoms. This comes at a time when the world is already experiencing an epidemic of mental illness. Continue reading
“I can feel your sadness.” This is a declaration we are certainly hearing frequently these days. And it’s not to be taken lightly. Experiencing another person’s sadness, for example, and having the ability to share in their feelings is called emotional empathy. It is emotional empathy that helps us build emotional connections with other people and ultimately serves as the thread of our existence as social beings.
Our ability to share in the joy of another person’s success or achievement, as well as our sense of heartbreak when someone experiences a personal tragedy, are fundamental elements of our social fabric. Simply stated, our social existence depends deeply on our ability to participate in the emotional experiences of others. Continue reading