Excessive naps can be an early sign of dementia

(CNN) – Napping frequently or regularly for long periods of the day may be a sign of this mental illness In the elderly, a new study revealed.

Older adults who naps at least once a day or for more than an hour a day were 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who naps less than an hour a day, according to the study published this Thursday in the Academy. magazine Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We found that the association between excessive daytime naps and dementia persisted after adjusting for the quantity and quality of nighttime sleep,” study co-author Dr. Yu Ling, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a statement.

The results are in agreement with these CONCLUSIONS OF A PREVIOUS STUDY by Leng, who has found that two-hour naps a day increase the risk of cognitive decline compared to naps of less than 30 minutes a day.

The new study used data collected over 14 years by the Rush Memory and Aging Project, which followed more than 1,400 people aged 74 to 88 (median age 81).

“I think the public doesn’t realize that Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that often causes changes in mood and sleep behavior,” said Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at the Center for Brain Health at Florida Atlantic University, Schmidt School. medicine.

“Excessive napping can be one of many signs that a person may be on the path to cognitive decline, and may require an in-person evaluation with a physician,” said Isaacson, who was not involved in the study.

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Increased need for naps

The quality and quantity of sleep declines with age, often due to pain or complications of chronic diseases, such as the need to go to the bathroom more often. As a result, older adults tend to take more naps than when they were younger.

Daytime naps may also be a sign of changes in the brain that are “independent of nighttime sleep,” Ling said. Lang pointed out Previous investigations Suggesting that the development of tau tangles, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, may affect wake-promoting neurons in key regions of the brain, thereby disrupting sleep.

For 14 days a year, participants in the current study wore a tracker that captures data about their movements. A prolonged absence of movement between 9 am and 7 pm was interpreted as a nap.

Although people may have been reading or watching TV, “we developed a unique algorithm to identify naps and distinguish them from no activity. We did not specify a specific duration for ‘long naps’, but instead focused more on the cumulative nap minutes per day and the change in length of naps. napping over the years,” Ling told CNN via email.

“This justifies the need for further studies with devices able to distinguish between sleep and sedentary behavior,” Isaacson said. “But at the same time, prolonged immobility and immobility is a known risk factor for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Regardless of the cause, daytime sleepiness or excessive napping keeps me focused on whether a person is at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline,” he said.

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Over a 14-year period, the study found that daily daytime naps increased by an average of 11 minutes per year in adults who did not experience cognitive decline. However, a diagnosis of MCI doubled nap time to a total of 24 minutes per day. People with Alzheimer’s disease nearly tripled nap time, averaging 68 minutes per day.

The “significant increase” in the length and frequency of naps over the years seems to be a particularly important sign, Ling said.

“I don’t think we have enough evidence to draw conclusions about causation, that naps themselves cause cognitive aging, but excessive daytime naps could be a sign of accelerated aging or the cognitive aging process,” he said.

What to do?

It’s best for adults to limit daytime naps to 15 to 20 minutes before 3 p.m. to get the most benefits from naps and not impair nighttime sleep, Ling said.

Additionally, older adults and caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s should pay more attention to daytime napping behaviors and watch for signs of excessive or increased napping, he said.

Any significant increase in naps should be discussed with a doctor, Isaacson said.

“I think it’s never too late for someone to change their brain-healthy lifestyle or pay more attention to their brain health,” Isaacson said. “Make sleep a priority, pay attention to sleep quality, talk to your doctor about sleep — all of these are crucial.”

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