New research has found that excessive napping in the daytime for older individuals may indicate a heightened risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The study, which involved a cohort of older individuals, was carried out by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The researchers discovered a link between cognitive aging and excessive napping in the daytime, noting that being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s accelerated the increase in daytime napping as an individual aged while excessive napping during the daytime forecasted an elevated future risk of Alzheimer’s. The study’s findings were reported in “Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.”
Peng Li, a researcher from the institution’s Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, stated that the study’s results suggested that excessive napping during the day signaled an increased risk of Alzheimer’s dementia. Li also noted that a faster annual increase in napping during the day could be a sign of deteriorating clinical progression of the illness.
Li explained that the researchers’ results emphasized the need to pay closer attention to daytime as well as nighttime sleep patterns in older individuals.
The researchers carried out their study using data obtained from an ongoing prospective study known as the Memory Aging Project. They tested two hypotheses, i.e., that individuals who napped excessively during the daytime had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and that individuals napped more frequently and/or for longer periods with aging and that the changes accelerate with disease progression.
More than 1,000 older individuals, with the average age being 81, were given a watch-like device known as Actical, which they wore on their nondominant wrist for a fortnight. The researchers determined sleep episodes using a validated sleep scoring algorithm, which considered counts of wrist activity. Once they had identified the episodes involving naps, the frequency of the naps as well as the duration was calculated for every individual.
The researchers found that nap frequency and duration positively correlated with age, discovering a longitudinal, bidirectional relationship between Alzheimer’s and daytime sleep. They also discovered that more frequent and longer naps in the daytime were a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s in cognitively normal older women and men, independent of the risk factors of dementia.
Kun Hu, senior author of the study, explained that the objective of the study was to highlight daytime sleep patterns and how important it was for patients to watch for any changes to their sleep schedules. This study was conducted in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco and the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
Excessive sleepiness or napping isn’t only a concern for those likely to develop Alzheimer’s. People who are diabetic or prediabetic and use glucose monitoring devices such as those made by Nemaura Medical Inc. (NASDAQ: NMRD) often complain of excessive tiredness and sleepiness during the day, so it is best to see a doctor before coming to any conclusions about what could be ailing you.
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