Memory Loss in Elderly Caused by Poor Sleep

Researchers from the University of California at Berkley found a link between memory loss and the deterioration of the brain and poor sleep, among elderly adults.

Researchers said they found that during sleep, that is deep and restorative, slow brain waves normally take place in younger people and play a key role in the transference of memories between the brain’s hippocampus, the area that stores memories for the short term and the prefrontal cortex the area that provides storage of memories over the long term.

However, in the elderly, memories at times become stuck in the hippocampus due to poor deep sleep and therefore less slow waves are created. That causes some of the short term memories to be written over by new ones, said researchers. The new discovery has created an opportunity to give a boost to sleep quality among elderly people in an attempt to improve their overall memory.

The findings also give reason to some of the forgetfulness that is common amongst the elderly including having a difficult time remembering names.

Adults that are considered healthy tend to spend about a quarter of their night of sleep in a deep non-rapid eye movement phase known as REM. That form of sleep is the best at generating slow waves in the frontal lobe of the brain. In elderly people that have a deterioration of that region of the brain have been linked to not having sufficient deep sleep, said the findings in the recent study.

More similar types of studies must be performed by researchers, to help enhance the sleep of the elderly and find a way to increase their overnight memory.

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