Sarah Regan

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

By Sarah Regan

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Editor

Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor’s in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.

Senior Woman smelling fresh herbs in her kitchen in pots that she planted

Image by Trinette Reed / Stocksy

March 15, 2023

It’s no secret that one night of poor sleep can leave you feeling less than optimal, but chronic sleep issues like insomnia can take an even greater toll over time. According to recent research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, insomnia is now linked with an increased risk for dementia. Here’s what they found.


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Studying the relationship between insomnia & dementia.

For this study, researchers wanted to look at the connection between sleep disturbances and dementia, looking at over 6,000 participants over a 10-year period. Data from adults ages 65 and up were analyzed from the National Health and Aging Trends Study, with an emphasis on sleep initiation insomnia (trouble falling asleep), sleep-maintenance insomnia (trouble falling back asleep after waking up early), and sleep medication usage.

Then, the study authors looked to see which of the participants developed dementia over the course of the study. And as you might imagine, insomnia (namely, sleep initiation insomnia) is not a great recipe for lowering your dementia risk.

The study authors found that sleep initiation insomnia increased participants’ risk of insomnia just over 50%, which is a pretty significant stat. Sleep medication usage also showed an increased dementia risk at 30%.

As lead investigator Roger Wong, Ph.D., MPH, MSW, notes in a news release, “Our findings highlight the importance of considering sleep disturbance history when assessing the dementia risk profile for older adults,” adding that more research is needed to better understand the mechanisms behind this insomnia-dementia connection.

What to do about it.

While we wait for more research to unpack how insomnia could be impacting dementia risk, the good news is, we can focus on our sleep hygiene in an effort to tackle insomnia first.

The essential sleep rules, like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, are a good place to start—along with avoiding caffeine and alcohol too close to bed, which can impact sleep quality.

Talk to your doctor if insomnia is persistent, and consider opting for a quality sleep supplement with ingredients like magnesium and pharmaGABA, which are research-backed to help you fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality.

Need a place to start? Be sure to check out our roundup of the 13 best products for insomnia.


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The takeaway.

Sleep is so essential to virtually all of our bodily functions, and insomnia is a major risk factor for a lot of health issues, dementia included. As we understand more and more about sleep and its integral role in our biology, there’s never been more reason to make sure you’re getting quality sleep every night.


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