Regularly sleeping less than six hours per night could lead to dementia - study

If you struggle to nod off at night and seem to have never-ending insomnia, it could have farther reaching effects than simply being a bit snappy the next day. 

 According to a new study published this week in the journal Nature Communications, regularly sleeping six hours or fewer per night is associated with a greater risk of dementia. 

 That means if you're among the one in three Kiwis who consider themselves "sleep-deprived" or you're the kind of person who brags about being a "night owl", you may be setting up your brain for failure. 

 Researchers followed almost 8000 people for 25 years and found higher dementia risk with a "sleep duration of six hours or less at age 50 and 60" as compared to those who slept seven hours a night.

 "Persistent" short sleep duration between the ages of 50, 60 and 70 was also associated with a "30 percent increased dementia risk" independent of "sociodemographic, behavioural, cardiometabolic, and mental health factors". 

 According to CNN, Tom Dening, spokesperson for the Centre for Dementia at the Institute of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham in the UK, said the "message for us all" is that "evidence of sleep disturbance can occur a long time before the onset of other clinical evidence of dementia". 

 However, he added the study couldn't prove "cause and effect". 

 "Maybe it is simply a very early sign of the dementia that is to come, but it's also quite likely that poor sleep is not good for the brain and leaves it vulnerable to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease."

If you do struggle with sleep, this one trick from The Project might help you nod off faster, and sleep better through the night.