DR. DONALD JOHNSON: REM sleep and dementia risk

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There are five stages to the sleep cycle. Some group stage two and stage three together and say there are four stages to the sleep cycle, but the last two stages are always the same, no matter who you listen to. I like to use the five stage cycle.

The last stage is always called rapid eye movement of REM. That’s because your eyes are moving rapidly every which way in this stage. And you should be moving through the five stages four to five times each night and spending a total accumulated time in REM of 120 minutes. It’s in this stage of sleep that you always dream, so you have the potential of having four to five dreams each night. I know I do.

Researchers studied more than 300 participants who were over 60 years of age for 12 years. They used data from the Framingham Heart Study. The results showed that for each percentage of REM sleep reduction, there was a 9 percent increase in dementia risk and an 8 percent increase in Alzheimer’s risk.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can keep people from spending that 120 minutes in REM. Each time there is an apneic event, the sleep stages reset to stage one and the cycle starts over. Therefore, the person may not get to stage five, or REM. This can also happen to people who use CPAP; if there is a leak or something else which causes an arousal, the sleep stage can also be reset to stage one resulting in a lack of REM sleep.

There is still a lot of study that has to be done to make sure that it is not the dementia that is causing the sleep disturbance and not the other way around. But it is safe to say that everyone should do everything they can to make sure that they are getting the right amount of sound sleep.

Studies also show that people who sleep for over nine hours every night have twice the risk of developing dementia within 10 years when compared to people who sleep for under nine hours every night.

OSA is treatable. Make an appointment for a free consultation to discuss your questions and see the treatment options that are available, as well as how you can fid out if you have OSA. Call our office at 208-667-4551.

• • •

Dr. Donald Johnson founded Heartfelt Family Dental and Northwest Treatment Center for Snoring and Sleep Apnea in Coeur d’Alene to help people live free with no limits and STOP SNORING! His office is at 114 W. Neider Ave., near Costco. The websites for more information are www.HeartfeltDental.com or www.NwSleepDoc.com and the office phone is 208-667-4551. Schedule an appointment for a free consultation today!

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