Are you in your late 40s or 50s? Have you been suffering from inadequate or poor sleep lately? You may want to hear this out. According to a latest study, those who suffer sleep disturbances in midlife are more likely to develop cognitive impairment than people who have been facing no such troubles with their sleep.
The study published in the journal Sleep Medicine examined data from four previous studies. The researchers studied the link between sleep and cognitive function. Two of these studies, followed almost 3,400 people for more than two decades, starting when they were in their fifties.
The findings revealed that the brains of people who suffered from insomnia and nightmares were more likely to give way to cognitive impairment in old age than people who had not been facing with such troubles.
The scientists note that while sleep disturbances are definitely a major risk factor, the good news is that the risk is modifiable. There is a lot that could be done to improve the sleep, on levels of diet, physical activity and medicine.
The researchers noted that occasional sleeping difficulties due to high stress levels, caffeine or alcohol consumption or due to jet lag are common, but if the problem persists on a chronic level, then there could be a problem. Difficulty in falling asleep, waking up during the middle of the night, waking up too early in the morning, or suffering from poor sleep quality are triggers that point to poor sleep habits and must not be taken lightly.
For the study, the team analysed the data collected from four smaller studies of people in the general population in Sweden.
The findings revealed that after just three to 11 years, people with problems like insomnia started to score low on tests of cognitive function.
When people had nightmares in middle age, this was associated with poor cognition later in life after 21 to 31 years of follow-up, the study also found. However this association too could have other factors that can impact both sleep quality and brain function - such as smoking, drinking and exercise habits as well as mental health issues.
Another limitation of the study was that the sleep problems which were reported, were not measured objectively by researchers. There was also no adequate data on other risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, dementia and cognitive decline.
If you have been experiencing some sleep disorders, a little change in your lifestyle and eating habits may bring positive effects on your sleep. Here are some sleep inducing foods that you must add in your daily diet.
Bananas contain good amounts of magnesium and potassium- both of which can relax muscles and thereby induce better sleep. They are also packed with good carbohydrates that make you feel sleepy.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and tryptophan. Magnesium is a muscles relaxant, tryptophan helps in releasing serotonin, the pleasure hormone and omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce instances of anxiety and depression.
Almonds are dense with magnesium that will help you catch more quality sleep. Besides this, they help in regulating your blood sugar levels while sleeping.
4. Warm Milk
Milk is a known sleep supporter, as it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that converts into serotonin. Serotonin is known to induce calming effects in the brain.
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