By now, you probably know all sleep is not created equal.
You cycle through five different sleep stages more than once on any given night, varying from light to deep. And when it comes to health and disease, it seems that some stages play a bigger role than others.
Such is the case with REM sleep — also called “the dreaming cycle” (and the deepest kind of sleep) — during which your brain is the most active. And researchers are starting to think disturbances in this cycle of sleep in particular are responsible for some of insomnia’s worst effects.
Effects like increased dementia risk, for one.
Researchers collected sleep data from more than 300 participants from the Framingham Heart Study, with an average age of 67 years old. They followed the subjects for an average of 12 years — and discovered a chilling trend.
Subjects who went on to develop dementia spent less time in REM sleep, and took longer to reach this sleep cycle, than those subjects with healthy brains. In fact, every percentage drop in REM sleep was accompanied by a 9 percent increase in dementia risk — even after accounting for factors linked to both sleep disruption and cognitive decline (like heart disease, depression, and medication use).
But the researchers found no link between higher dementia risk where the other sleep stages were concerned. Which suggests that REM loss in particular is uniquely dangerous for your brain.
That’s not too surprising, when you consider the fact that this stage of sleep also appears to play a role in memory consolidation. But researchers still don’t know exactly how REM is related to dementia risk — or more importantly, how this discovery may help delay or prevent cognitive decline.
But suffice it to say, you can’t go wrong by doing your best to get high-quality sleep every single night.
Unfortunately, that’s a tall order for a lot of people. As a doctor, I’m all too familiar with this problem — not to mention the serious risks that accompany the drugs Big Pharma enthusiastically peddles as a solution.
And that’s exactly why I designed my Perfect Sleep Protocol — a comprehensive program dedicated to helping you achieve the perfect night’s sleep, every single night.
If you missed its debut last year — or if you’re struggling to get a full night of shut eye (despite trying every trick in the book) — I urge you to stop what you’re doing and learn more about it today.