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Deep Sleep Dementia

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Does my lack of deep sleep increase my risk of dementia? I am a long-term cancer survivor. I developed a l0ng-term side effect called chemobrain years ago. While my chemobrain  has improved significantly, I worry about the effect my chemobrain may have on possibly developing mild cognitive impairment, dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease as I age.

Further, as I march through my sixties I have more difficulty getting a “good night’s sleep.” So when I come across research that focus’ on both sleep and demential, I jump on it and write about it. I found the article linked and excerpted below to be educational.

When I talk about getting “a good nigh’s sleep,” I’m talking about Deep REM Sleep.

Deep REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is a stage of the sleep cycle characterized by rapid movement of the eyes, increased brain activity, and vivid dreams. It is an essential component of a healthy sleep cycle and offers various benefits. However, like any physiological process, there are also potential risks associated with deep REM sleep.

Benefits of Deep REM Sleep:

  1. Memory Consolidation: REM sleep is crucial for consolidating and storing memories. It helps in processing and organizing information obtained during the day, which aids in learning and memory retention.
  2. Emotional Regulation: REM sleep plays a role in emotional processing and regulation. It helps in dealing with stressful or emotionally charged experiences, contributing to improved mental well-being.
  3. Creativity and Problem-Solving: REM sleep is associated with enhanced creativity and problem-solving abilities. It allows the brain to make novel connections between ideas, leading to creative insights.
  4. Physical Restoration: While REM sleep is more focused on brain activity, it also supports physical restoration by aiding in the healing and repair of body tissues.

Risks and Considerations:

  1. Sleep Disorders: Disruptions in REM sleep can lead to various sleep disorders, such as REM sleep behavior disorder, which involves physically acting out dreams. Sleep disorders can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, impaired cognitive function, and other health issues.
  2. Sleep Deprivation: Inadequate REM sleep, often due to chronic sleep deprivation, can lead to cognitive impairments, mood disturbances, and a weakened immune system.
  3. Psychiatric Disorders: Some psychiatric disorders, like depression and anxiety, can affect REM sleep patterns. For example, individuals with depression may experience disruptions in REM sleep, which can contribute to their symptoms.
  4. Nightmares and Sleep Paralysis: During REM sleep, vivid dreams can occur. For some individuals, this can lead to nightmares, sleep paralysis, or other sleep-related disturbances.
  5. Physical Health: While REM sleep is more focused on cognitive functions, disruptions in the overall sleep cycle, including REM sleep, have been associated with an increased risk of various physical health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues.

Overall, deep REM sleep is a vital component of a healthy sleep cycle, offering numerous cognitive and emotional benefits. However, disruptions in REM sleep can lead to various health issues. It’s important to maintain a balanced and regular sleep schedule to support optimal REM sleep and overall well-being. If you have concerns about your sleep patterns, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for guidance and potential interventions.

The bottom line is that the less deep REM or slow-wave sleep I get, the higher my risk of dementia. And, according to the study linked below, my lack of deep sleep does increase my risk of demential. The only two evidence-based, non-conventional therapies I’ve found to help me achieve deep REM sleep are:

  • CBD oil and
  • Melatonin

I cannot take either of these therapies every night because when i do, the don’t work as well as they do when I take each every 6-7 nights. Meaning, I achieve deep sleep twice a week- once when I take CBD oil and once when I take melatonin.

David Emerson 

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Association Between Slow-Wave Sleep Loss and Incident Dementia

Question  Does the percentage of slow-wave sleep decline with aging, and are intra-individual declines associated with dementia risk?

Findings  This cohort study involving 346 participants from the Framingham Heart Study found that slow-wave sleep percentage declined with aging and Alzheimer disease genetic risk, with greater reductions associated with the risk of incident dementia.

Meaning  Slow-wave sleep loss may be a dementia risk factor…

Slow-wave sleep (SWS) supports the aging brain in many ways, including facilitating the glymphatic clearance of proteins that aggregate in Alzheimer disease. However, the role of SWS in the development of dementia remains equivocal…

Conclusions and Relevance  This cohort study found that slow-wave sleep percentage declined with aging and Alzheimer disease genetic risk, with greater reductions associated with the risk of incident dementia. These findings suggest that SWS loss may be a modifiable dementia risk factor…”


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