Daytime sleepiness linked to increased risks of Alzheimer’s

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A new study shows that excessive daytime sleepiness in cognitively normal elderly people leads to a build-up of a plaque in the brain called amyloid, which is linked to Alzheimer’s.

Deposited amyloid in brain tissue is the first known preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s and happens well before any obvious symptoms of dementia begin.

The researchers were motivated to look at the relationship between excessive daytime sleepiness – defined for the study as “difficulty in maintaining desired wakefulness or as a complaint of an excessive amount of sleep” – and neurodegenerative disease due to several links found by previous studies.

The researchers analysed data from 283 participants aged 70 or older who had been recruited through the Mayo Clinic. None of the participants had an existing diagnosis of dementia. At recruitment, everyone completed surveys reporting their degree of daytime sleepiness.

Participants also agreed to undergo at least two consecutive positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans between 2009 and 2016.

The scientists found that 63 participants qualified as experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness. In these people, this state was also associated with increased levels of beta-amyloid in two relevant regions of the brain.

“Our study showed,” they say, “that [excessive daytime sleepiness] in elderly persons without dementia may be associated with longitudinal [beta-amyloid] accumulation.”

They continue, saying, “This finding supports previous literature suggesting that [excessive daytime sleepiness] is a risk factor for cognitive decline or dementia.”

However, they admit that the study has some limitations, including the fact that it lacked “objective measures of sleep disturbance”, and that it did not assess exactly how much sleep the participants were getting per night.

Do you find yourself getting sleepier throughout the day? Are you worried about these findings?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 15
  1. 0

    Less than two weeks ago I read an article which said nana naps were fine gave them if you want them. Why is it that everything we read is contradictory. Confused.

  2. 0

    If I am tired I doze off

  3. 0

    Is there a higher Alzheimers in siesta loving Mexico?

    I would have had a siesta nearly every day of my life if the opportunity presented itself. ‘Sadly’, it almost never did. (Perhaps the inclination puts me in the category…we may see, even if I don’t)

  4. 0

    In Europe ‘siestas’ are regarded as the norm. They are traditionnal to the extent that in some places, even shops close at a certain time in the afternoons so that everyone can have their siesta (or what we may refer to as a nanna nap???) Any comment on this? Thanks.

  5. 0

    I don’t think this is talking in terms of nanna naps or siestas, which are fine – but in feeling excessively tired throughout the day and I would suggest also weary.

  6. 0

    This is not reasearch. An undergraduate student would be failed for this sloppy piece of work which confirms nothing apart from the fact that the authors don’t know much about research. There were only 283 people in the study! There are so many uncontrolled variables – level of activity, hours of sleep, quality of sleep, health problems, sleep,apnoea, noise levels, medications. People with bladder or prostate problems often get up to wee several times a night so of course they are tired! Older people are known to change their sleep habits, often waking very early which necessitates a nap. It’d be better to investigate why so many elderly people take sleeping tablets.

  7. 0

    I suspect the sleepiness is just a symptom and not the cause of the problem

  8. 0

    It’s a joke. The unnamed ‘researchers’ should get a job. Too ridiculous to comment on really, so what on earth am I doing, for goodness sake?

  9. 0

    Light weight item – not worth the space.
    Get rid of the gambling adverts!!!!!!!

  10. 0

    It can not hurt to know where peoples thinking and investigations are going. As journalism I see no problem here at all. Aa science, well, it seems like a sketchy first run to see if there may be any possibility of traction in the idea.

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