Friday, August 31, 2012

Statistics Make Me Sleepy

I worry about dementia.  I have watched two aunts, an uncle and my own mother fade away in that manner.

Maybe you heard the story on NPR.  I read about it on Changing Aging.  Sleep problems are associated with cognitive decline.  Forty percent of American adults have trouble sleeping, and according to Dr. Kristine Yaffe of the University of California at San Francisco, those with sleep disorders are twice as likely to develop some type of dementia in later life.

Of course, her research was done on individuals over 75, a population that seems more likely to develop dementia in any case.  (I don’t understand statistics very well.)  In any case, a connection is there, but that does not mean that sleep disorders actually cause dementia.  Maybe dementia causes sleep disorder.  Or maybe some other factor is at work that might result in both sleep problems and dementia.

It seems to me that there is no reason to assume that the thing to do is sleep better so you won’t get dementia.  On the other hand, sleeping better certainly can’t hurt anything and the article lists the typical sleep hygiene suggestions that I have tried and that really have worked for me.  It also mentions that the best way to strength one’s circadian rhythms is with natural sunlight.  I think I  intuitively knew this is something I need and so I feel vindicated in my trek south each winter.

Or maybe that is what they call cognitive dissonance.  In any case, the light had definitely changed and I am starting to think about heading south with the rest of the birds.

Here is another funky statistic that I just read in the September Redbook:

An Ikea survey found that woman who use shoe racks are seven times more likely to be on time for work.  Who cares why--just get one.

Honestly, that is pretty funny.  Wouldn't it be nice if life was really that easy?


  1. I know exactly where you are coming from. My grand mother, mother and her younger brother all fell to Alzheimer's. I have read the connection with sleep as well, and like you wonder is it causative or symptomatic. Head trauma may be another cause and trigger. Both my mother and her brother had nasty falls which seemed to make their conditions worse within several months. This getting old business is for the birds.

    Nice blog, I have seen you over at Fifty Odd and maybe at Jo's?

  2. Olga, I too have lost 2 aunts and my mother to Alzheimer's and worry about it as well. But what can you do? Worry doesn't help. I did listen to NPR about the research being done on Aluminum and Alzheimer's...

  3. Who comes up with those statistics anyway..especially the shoe one. Here too, as the days are becoming shorter, I am starting to think about our trek southwest(in our case) Do you stay north through the holidays? We'll pull out after Christmas!!

  4. I'm not sure I agree with those findings. Many of my family members have suffered from dementia, but none had sleep disorders. I sleep well, but I still keep exercising my brain to ward off any cognition problems.
    I liked the shoe rack issue. I always used shoe racks and I was always on time. However, one day, while dressing in the dark, I donned two similarly styled shoes, but one was black, the other brown.


  5. I must be really smart, then, b/c I sleep like a baby (actually, better than a baby since, as I recall, babies don't sleep all that well -- or at least mine didn't.)

    Anyway, the secret for me? No TV in the bedroom. Instead, read a book in bed. Guaranteed to ease you painlessly to dreamland.

  6. I love the shoe rack statistic! The house I'm in now came in with a built-in shoe rack behind the kitchen door. Just one of the many thoughtful things the owners did.

  7. Love your blog, but not sure about statistics for dementia or anything else as I have never found statistics reliable, it depends on the questions asked. My mother had dementia and I do recall that she wasn't a good sleeper. I hope that I won't be a statistic - I am a good sleeper - so far so good. Being a grandma to 5 little ones keeps me busy and I think contributes to my sleeping soundly and happily.

  8. You might feel less worried if you started to take coconut oil. Try researching it because it is supposed to help prevent dementia.


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