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Post-traumatic stress, sleep and dementia

October 23, 2017
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Research has shown that older adults who have experienced post-traumatic stress (PTS) have a higher risk of developing neurocognitive decline, but a poor sleep regimen may make it worse, according to researchers at the University of California-San Francisco.

A literature review recently published in Current Psychiatry Reports shows that sleep impairments can contribute to increased risk of dementia in several ways. Some research suggests that poor sleep causes cellular damage in the parts of the brain responsible for memory. Other studies suggest that a lack of sleep may trigger the accumulation of the amyloid proteins thought to cause the sticky blockages in the brain’s neuro pathways. Finally, PTS and poor sleep have both been linked to higher levels of inflammation, a known associate of dementia.

Regardless, the researchers argue, the effects of sleep on the brain’s health seems strong enough that future studies on PTS and dementia should include sleep data.

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