Early dementia symptom: daytime sleepiness may indicate future Alzheimer's disease

Early dementia symptom: daytime sleepiness may indicate future Alzheimer's disease

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Daytime sleepiness can indicate later Alzheimer's disease

A recent study found that older adults, who are often sleepy during the day, had brain deposits of beta-amyloid almost three times more often. This protein is typical of Alzheimer's disease that occurs years later.

In their current study, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health scientists found that high sleepiness in older people during the day seems to indicate an increased risk of Alzheimer's. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "SLEEP".

What factors influence the risk of Alzheimer's?

The long-term study shows that adequate nighttime sleep could be a way to prevent Alzheimer's disease, the experts say. Factors such as diet, exercise and cognitive activity are widely regarded as important potential targets for the prevention of Alzheimer's, but sleep also seems to have an impact on the development of the disease, explains study author Dr. Adam P. Spira from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. If sleep disorders contribute to Alzheimer's disease, patients with sleep problems should be treated to avoid these negative consequences, the doctor adds.

Where did the data used in the study come from?

The study used data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), a long-term study started by the NIA in 1958 and which medically monitored the health of thousands of elderly volunteers. Between 1991 and 2000, volunteers filled out a questionnaire as part of the study’s regular surveys, asking the simple question of whether participants were often asleep or tired during the day. In addition, the question was asked how often the test subjects sleep during the week, once or twice a week, three to five times a week, rarely or never.

Which examinations were carried out?

A subset of the participants in the BLSA study also received a so-called neuroimaging examination in 1994. Some of these subjects also underwent positron emission tomography (PET) from 2005. This is how plaques should be found in the neural tissue. These plaques are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, the researchers explain.

How much was the risk of Alzheimer's increased?

Before adjusting the results to demographic factors that could affect daytime fatigue, such as age, gender, education, and body mass index, the study data showed that participants who reported daytime fatigue were about three times more likely to have beta-amyloid deposits had as subjects who did not feel tired during the day. After adjusting the data for the factors mentioned, the increased risk of Alzheimer's in daytime sleepiness was still 2.75 times higher, the researchers report.

Sleep has a major impact on the risk of Alzheimer's

However, according to Spira, it is unclear why daytime sleepiness correlates with the deposition of beta-amyloid proteins. One possibility is that daytime sleepiness itself causes this protein to form in the brain, the experts explain. Based on previous research, a likely explanation is that sleep disorders, such as from obstructive sleep apnea or insufficient sleep due to other factors, cause beta-amyloid plaques to form through a currently unknown mechanism and these sleep disorders also cause excessive daytime fatigue. However, it cannot be ruled out that amyloid plaques that were present at the time of the sleep assessment cause daytime sleepiness, the study author explains in a press release from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Watching TV and shift work can worsen sleep quality

The new study shows that poor sleep could actually contribute to Alzheimer's development. The results suggest that sleep quality could be a risk factor that can be influenced by sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia as well as social and individual factors such as sleep loss through work or television, the study authors concluded. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Searching for early signs of Alzheimers disease (January 2023).