Poor sleep may lead to dementia, study says

The snoring may bother Cary Akyoshi's wife, but it's waking up tired that bothers the Monterey Park resident.

"I think if I would feel more refreshed in the morning, it would be better," said Akyoshi, who has been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

A new Journal Neurology study finds sleep apnea or simply spending less time in deep sleep may raise the risk of developing dementia.

"People who tended to have a lower oxygen level in their blood during sleep had more ... very small strokes that have been correlated with memory loss and thinking skill problems in aging," said neurologist James Leverenz, who treats dementia at the Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers with the VA Pacific Islands Health Care System studied nearly 170 Japanese-American men. They found people who don't have as much oxygen in their blood during sleep, which occurs with sleep apnea and conditions such as emphysema, are more likely to have tiny abnormalities in brain tissue associated with the development of dementia.

Researchers say more studies are needed, but if you snore loudly, you're gasping for air at night or you're tired all the time, it may be time to get checked.

"It's worth going to see your physician and getting your sleep evaluated, because if you have true sleep apnea it's not good for your brain," Leverenz said.

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