Poor Sleep Linked to Memory Trouble in African-American Seniors

October 24, 2008 at 12:07 am Leave a comment

black-seniors-stock-image.jpgOlder African Americans who have difficulty falling asleep seem to be more likely to have memory problems, a new study suggests.


The study, of
174 African Americans ages 65 to 90, found that those who said they
often had a hard time falling asleep tended to have poorer scores on
standard tests of memory.

Research shows that up to 40 percent of older adults have sleep disturbances, particularly trouble falling asleep.
Poor sleep has also been linked to problems with memory and other
cognitive functions. However, no studies until now have looked at this
relationship specifically in older black adults — who, some research
suggests, tend to be especially vulnerable to sleep problems.

In
the current study, reported in the journal Research on Aging,
investigators found that participants who’d been having trouble falling
asleep over the past year generally had lower scores on tests of
short-term and working memory. Working memory refers to the ability to
tackle multiple tasks at once.

The link between sleep and memory
problems held when the researchers accounted for several other factors,
including depression and overall physical health.

The findings
raise a number of questions, according to lead researcher Alyssa A.
Gamaldo, a Ph.D. candidate at North Carolina State University in
Raleigh.

For one, Gamaldo said in a statement, “it is not clear if lack of sleep is the issue. Is it the quantity of sleep, the quality of sleep, or something else altogether?”

More
research is needed to confirm that a lack of sleep, or a lack of
quality sleep, drain memory in older adults, according to Gamaldo’s
team. If the current findings are confirmed, they add, then spotting
and treating sleep problems in older adults could help them preserve
their brain power.

“If we can better understand how sleep
quantity, as well as quality, influences general cognitive
functioning,” Gamaldo said, “perhaps we could better maintain memory
throughout life — including later in life.”

Source: Life Script

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Entry filed under: African-American, Health. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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