Lack of Sleep a Major Cause for Memory Loss Among Elderly

by VR Sreeraman on Oct 15 2008 6:15 PM

Inadequate sleep is one of the main causes behind memory problems among elderly people, according to a new study by North Carolina State University analysts.

It has been brought to light that proper sleep and 'cognitive functioning', which can be defined as a range of high-level brain functions, including the ability to learn and remember information: organize, plan, and problem-solve; focus, maintain, and shift attentions, are interrelated.

As a result aged people, who are insomniac, which means have trouble falling asleep, will be more prone to improper cognitive functioning

According to the study conducted by psychology Ph.D. student Alyssa A. Gamaldo on Afro-Americans, elder people, who had difficulty sleeping faired pretty badly on the memory tests conducted on them.

Gamaldo emphasizes that the link between sleep and cognitive functioning should be examined further and it is more important to identify whether quantity of sleep or quality of sleep affects the cognitive functioning among older adults.

"It is not clear if lack of sleep is the issue. Is it the quantity of sleep, the quality of sleep, or something else altogether?" Gamaldo said.

"If we can better understand how sleep quantity, as well as quality, influences general cognitive functioning, perhaps we could better maintain memory throughout life, including later in life," Gamaldo added.

The study, "The Relationship Between Reported Problems Falling Asleep and Cognition Among African American Elderly," will be published in the November issue of Research on Aging.