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Memory loss in seniors compounded by less sleep, new evidence shows

Seniors need sleep for memory

Memory loss directly linked to lack of deep sleep

A new study from the University of California has discovered a correlation between less sleep and memory loss in seniors.  The study observed two groups: younger adults in their 20’s and older adults, mainly in their 70’s.  Both groups were given a list of 120 words to memorize; they then would sleep on it and submit to tests based on the word list in the morning.  Each participant was monitored with an EEG during sleep and an fMRI scan during the recollection tests.

The results of the study confirm that the seniors are experiencing deep sleep (REM) 75% less than young adults.  This was reflected on the memory test scores, with seniors scoring 35% lower.

Scientists believe that when we fall into a deep sleep, our frontal brain processes information for safekeeping from ‘slow waves’ generated from our hippocampus.  Matthew Walker, senior author of the study, explains “When we are young, we have deep sleep that helps the brain store and retain new facts and information, but as we get older, the quality of our sleep deteriorates and prevents those memories from being saved by the brain at night.”

Walker concludes that the research group has “discovered is a dysfunctional pathway that helps explain the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption and memory loss as we get older – and with that, a potentially new treatment avenue.”

We at Arcadia Home Care know that many of us worry about the amount of sleep our loved ones are getting.  If you aren’t able to make sure that your aging loved one is getting enough sleep on your own, know that Arcadia has a “Rise and Shine” package to assist your loved one in getting ready for sleep and in waking-up activities, ensuring the ability for them to get a good night’s sleep.  And hopefully know that your loved one is getting a good night’s sleep will help you get a good night’s sleep as well, keeping you and your family at home and healthier longer.

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