Once they get retired, sleeping in most mornings becomes a luxury that they have been waiting for decades. However, elderly people who beg for those few extra minutes under the blanket can actually be twice as predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease of other forms of dementia, researchers say.
A team of Boston University researchers analyzed the sleep patterns of thousands of elderly people past the age of 60 and discovered that those who consistently slept for more than nine hours a night were twice as likely to be more predisposed to neurological damage than those who woke up earlier. Hence, seven percent of the participants over the age of 65 developed Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Moreover, the researchers say the risk even doubles every five years individuals gain in age.
However, forcing oneself to reduce the amount of rest per night does not necessarily mean the threat will go away. Even more so, as scientists say oversleeping is actually a symptom of the condition, rather than a cause. Furthermore, the researchers found that having a superior education degree provides some sort of protection against the disease, as those who did not have a high school degree and overslept increased their risk by a factor of six. Even though education plays an important role for the people at risk, there is no way, at the moment, to stop or halt the advancement of the disease, unfortunately.
For their study, Dr. Matthew Pase and his team collected data from more than 2,400 patients who also took part in the Framingham Heart Study, a major survey with heart disease risk factors as the main focus point. Patients with an average age of 72 were asked about the amount of sleep they get per night and were kept under surveillance for the next decade. In the follow-up period, 234 patients were diagnosed with some form of dementia.
Hence, the researchers concluded sleeping more than nine hours each night doubles the risk of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, such behavior was also associated with smaller brain volume. Ultimately, feeling the need for more sleep in the morning, together with rambling speech, can be apparent long before more specific symptoms of Alzheimer’s start to show, such as memory loss, researchers said.
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