According to the latest research, too little or too much sleep can have a bearing on your odds of developing dementia. The findings were revealed by researchers against the backdrop of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) held this week. AAIC is the biggest gathering of dementia researchers in the world. Research examining the effects of sleep patterns is a new for scientists probing the causes of and ties to Alzheimer’s. New studies on such cognitive conditions offer hope and help to those afflicted by them, and those taking care of patients, such as family and caregivers.
A look at the studies
The findings of four separate studies in this niche were presented at the AAIC; all pointed to a link between dementia and sleep patterns and disruptions. Dr. Constantine Lyketsos from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Centre said that multiple studies conducted on this subject indicate the same thing – different types of sleep disruptions can accelerate cognitive aging, and consequently, dementia’s risk factors. Lyketsos added that sleep apnea patients may experience interruptions in breathing several times during the night, and it is only recently that researchers have attempted to find out the impact these interruptions could be having on the brain.
Another aspect being investigated by researchers is how circadian patterns (the mental, physical and behavioral changes that follow a 24 hour cycle) affect the production and clearance of amyloid-beta 42 protein. This is significant given that amyloid-beta proteins are considered the biomarkers for dementia. However, there is still no clarity about how the protein concentrations behave over time. Many of the challenges of dementia can be overcome with the right help and support. Our Carlton Plaza San Leandro community in California, for instance, provides residents with a specially-designed program incorporating best practices in dementia care and advanced therapy tools.
Another University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) study on people suffering from sleep disorders found that breathing abnormalities associated with sleep-related conditions increase the odds of developing dementia and mild cognitive disorders. Dr. Kristine Yaffe from UCSF said that the study findings supported an association between the likelihood of developing mild cognitive disorders in the later years and sleep disorders, adding that effective treatment of such conditions can help delay the onset of dementia and cognitive disorders.
Nurse health Dementia study
Yet another study of 1300 women at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital revealed interesting findings. The respondents, all nurses with a mean age of 82, were found to have varying cognition levels in relation to their sleep patterns. Those who slept less than five hours a day had lower cognition in comparison to women enjoying up to seven hours of sleep a day. Their cognitive levels were measured through memory exercises.
More Dementia research needed in the area
Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of the Alzheimer’s Association William Thies said that it was too early to positively ascertain that poor sleep patterns can have a long-term effect on cognitive function, even though there is enough evidence to suggest that sleep patterns change with the aging process. He added that there are tools available to monitor sleep quality and duration, and return sleep patterns to normal. This would help in the preservation of cognitive health.