A recent long term study into cardiovascular disease has shown that sleeping more than 9 hours per night may be an early warning symptom of a significantly increased risk of dementia, to include Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
The findings, published on 22 February 2017 in the American medical journal Neurology, suggest that people with prolonged sleep patterns had 6 times the risk of developing dementia in the next 10 years as compared to those who slept for less than 9 hours each night.
All accumulated sleep during a 24 hour period appears to count: other research has shown that day-time napping which starts to routinely extend into longer stretches of snoozing (of several hours) can be an early sign of dementia.
It is also of note that dementia research by a Canadian University in 2012 showed that older people who complained of daytime sleepiness, restless nights, and increased use of sleeping pills were much more likely to get Alzheimer’s within two years.
Screening for sleeping problems may accordingly prove useful in the early detection of dementia. It has been recommended that those reporting an increase in their sleeping habits undergo early dementia screening accordingly.
It should be noted that efforts to restrict sleeping would have no beneficial effect, because excessive sleep appears to a symptom, rather than a cause, of the brain changes that occur with dementia. However, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in 2011 did find a possible link between sleep deprivation and an increased risk of dementia, due to harmful levels of the amyloid beta protein levels within the brain. These levels can only be reduced with sleep. Constantly high levels of amyloid beta can cause the same plaques which are found within the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Although the researchers stressed that further studies were required, their evidence suggested that better quality sleep could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In support of this, the researchers added that exercise has been shown to both enhance sleep and reduce the incidence rate of dementia.
We at the LPA Advice company would recommend that people who are concerned about their loved ones’ sleeping patterns encourage them to take steps to protect their future financial and health care decisions by creating an LPA whilst they still have the mental capacity to be able to do so.