Any link between a dream and dementia sounds far-fetched, to be sure. Nonetheless, one possible interpretation of findings from a recent study is that people who dream more are less prone to dementia.
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream:
Researchers conducted in-depth all-night sleep studies on 321 older individuals. These people, who were all at least 60 years old, did not have cognitive problems when the study began. After 12 years, however, 10 percent of them were diagnosed with dementia. (24 of the 32 cases were believed to have Alzheimer’s disease.)
Those who developed dementia had spent less of their sleep time during the study night in REM sleep. Such rapid-eye-movement sleep is an indicator of dreaming. People who slept longer before they started to dream also were more likely to be diagnosed with dementia.
It is not clear, however, whether increasing time spent in REM can help conserve cognitive function. Rather, the authors believe that limited REM sleep might help predict future cognitive problems.
Can You Prevent or Reverse Alzheimer’s?
We recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Dale Bredesen about his multi-faceted program to preserve brain function as we age. Dr. Bredesen is Professor of Neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles and founding President and CEO of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. You can listen to our interview and read Dr. Bredesen’s comprehensive new book, The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline. Here is a link to our CD/book combination offer.