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A third of a life : it is the time that human beings dedicate to rest, throughout their existence. Based on an average of 7h47 per nightthe researchers have, over the course of research, estimated that thewe would sleep between 25 and 27 years, on a life expectancy fixed between 73 and 80 years. During these hours of sleep, the dream holds a considerable place since it would occupy the mind of the sleeper for nearly 1h40 per night.

Nightmares during sleep: 3,200 sleepers analyzed

Clearly, the man spends a little over six years dreaming, during his life, making dreams a key part of his existence. If they still constitute a real mystery for scientists, dreams reveal their secrets little by little, according to research work. Researchers from the University of Birmingham, led by Doctor Abidemi Otaiku, looked into the question, and more particularly into the causal link between nightmares and the evolution of cognitive abilities over the years.

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As part of this research, data from three US studies, correlating health and aging, were carefully analyzed. 600 people aged 35 to 64, as well as 2,600 people aged 79 and over took part in the major work. These 3,200 participants were followed closely for nine years, through a list of questions, including the frequency of their nightmares.

Too many nightmares would lead to brain decline

The results demonstrated that dreams, and particularly the phases of nightmares, have a direct effect on brain health. While the participants did not have any form of dementia at the start of the work, it was found that those who had very frequent nightmares at the start of the study had an increased risk of experiencing a decline in their cognitive abilities.

More specifically, it was found a real deterioration of memory and thinking skills. For some people, declining brain function has even led to a diagnosis of dementia.

Dementia: the oldest concerned

What category of people is really concerned? The study authors found that middle-aged participants nightmares on a weekly basis were four times more likely to experience cognitive decline over the next decade. For their part, participants aged 79 and over were twice as likely to be diagnosed with dementia and especially… men !

But then, do nightmares predict dementia, or do they directly cause it? The authors of the study specified that it was, in the state, not possible to answer this question, although the first option is the most probable according to them.

Nightmares… can be cured!

Do you frequently have nightmares? Don’t panic, say the researchers behind the work, nightmares can be treated. Behavioral, psychological and pharmacological therapies exist and can stop bad dreams that disturb sleep.

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Nightmares, harbingers of dementia?

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