REM sleep is an important stage during a sleep cycle, but not many people reach it all the time. This could be seriously dangerous, as recent findings showed how less REM sleep could be related to a higher risk of developing dementia. If it takes you longer to reach that stage, you are also at risk of cognitive decline.
REM sleep is important for the brain
REM sleep (rapid eye movement) is that sleep stage characterized by a low muscular tone and quick and sudden movements of the eye. Also, during this stage, people dream more deeply and vividly. Therefore, it is easy to understand why lacking it can seriously affect the brain.
To prove this connection, researchers looked at 321 people and their sleep cycles for a period of three years. Then, twelve years after the initial observations, 32 of these people ended up developing dementia or other related cognitive impairments. All these people used to spend only 17 percent of their sleep cycles in REM sleep.
Researchers looked at how sleep structure can influence the risk of dementia, and gathered all the findings in a study published in the journal Neurology. Matthew Pase, one of the authors of the study and professor at Boston University School of Medicine, identified the connection they were looking for.
“Our findings implicate REM sleep mechanisms as predictors of clinical dementia.”
How to find out you are sleep deprived
You might not be aware you don’t have enough REM sleep, but there are a few ways to identify the problem. First of all, you might be feeling hungry all the time. If you don’t get all the energy for the day from sleep, your brain might try to compensate it with food.
Of course, sleep deprivation might translate as daytime drowsiness. Apart from being tired, you might also find yourself forgetting things, and having a hard time concentrating. These are clear signs that lack of sleep is affecting your brain, so it might be time for you to change your sleeping schedule and get more rest.
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