How your sleep habits can predict your risk of Alzheimer’s

YOUR sleeping habits could predict if you are at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Napping is less common among younger people, but it becomes a more common daily occurrence as we age.

New research shows that sleeping habits can predict your risk of developing Alzheimer's


New research shows that sleeping habits can predict your risk of developing Alzheimer’sPhoto credit: Getty

However, recent research has found a link between daytime naps and Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The study also found that naps become more frequent and longer once dementia or mild cognitive impairment is diagnosed.

Research led by UC San Francisco and Harvard Medical School, along with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, contradicts the old theory that napping in older people serves to make up for poor sleep.

Instead, it turns out that developing dementia could actually affect the neurons in the brain that tell people when to wake up.

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Co-senior author Yue Leng, MD, PhD, from UCSF’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, said: “We found that the association between excessive daytime napping and dementia persisted even after adjusting for the quantity and quality of nighttime sleep.” stayed.

“This suggests that the role of napping in the daytime itself is important and independent of nighttime sleep.”

In the study, researchers tracked data from 1,401 seniors who wore a watch-like device that tracked their movements throughout the day.

When the researchers looked at the 24 percent who had normal cognition at the start of the study but developed Alzheimer’s six years later and compared them to those whose cognition remained stable, they found differences in napping habits.

Participants who napped for more than an hour a day had a 40 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those who slept less than an hour a day.

And participants who napped at least once a day had a 40 percent greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those who napped less than once a day.

Authors wrote: “It is plausible that our observed associations of excessive daytime napping at baseline and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease during follow-up reflect the impact of Alzheimer’s pathology in preclinical stages.”

“It would be very interesting for future studies to investigate whether napping intervention can help slow age-related cognitive decline.”

Alzheimer’s affects one in six people over the age of 80 and is thought to affect a total of around 850,000 people in the UK alone.

A hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of amyloid beta proteins in the brain, causing plaques.

The plaques then lead to the loss of connections between nerve cells in the brain — and eventual death of those cells and loss of brain tissue.

People with Alzheimer’s also have deficiencies in key brain chemicals that help transmit messages.

A deficiency in these chemicals means the brain can’t process certain messages as it would have previously, leading to confusion and memory loss.

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Sarah Y. Kim

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