Frequent Napping May Be an Early Sign of Dementia in the Elderly

To make up for a sleepless night and stay awake until it’s time to sleep, physicians usually recommend taking a ‘nap’ in the middle of the day, that is, taking a short nap during the day to defend your strength. However, it seems that these shortcuts do not bode well for older individuals.

Research on how napping affects cognition in adults has mixed results. Some studies of younger adults suggest that naps are beneficial for cognition, while studies of older adults suggest that it may be linked to cognitive impairment. According to some results, napping during the day may be an early sign of dementia for the elderly.

Sleeping a lot during the day may be an early predictor of cognitive decline

Early Sign of Dementia

Sleep disturbance, known symptoms of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in older adults, and daytime naps often become more frequent as the disease progresses. As a result, patients are less likely to fall asleep, and are more likely to wake up at night and feel sleepy during the day.

Yue Leng, an epidemiologist who studies sleep and neurodegeneration in older adults, and her team teamed up with 1,401 adults, aged 81, to find out whether changes in nap habits precipitate other signs of cognitive decline and to understand the relationship between daytime sleepiness and dementia. examined a set. In the examinations, it was determined that nap time increases proportionally with increasing age, and sleeping too much during the day may be a harbinger of cognitive decline.

At the beginning of the study, where the prolonged inactivity of participants who wore a watch-like device that tracked their movements for 14 years was interpreted as a shortcut, approximately 75 percent of the participants did not have any cognitive impairment. Of the remaining participants, 4 percent had Alzheimer’s and 20 percent had mild cognitive impairment, a frequent precursor to dementia.

While the daily rate of drowsiness among all participants increased gradually during the years of the study, it was noteworthy that until the end of the study, there were some differences in the nap habits of participants who had Alzheimer’s disease and those who did not. By comparison, participants who did not develop cognitive impairment had an average of 11 extra minutes of nap per year, while this rate doubled to 25 extra minutes per year after a mild cognitive impairment diagnosis; After the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it tripled to 68 extra minutes per year.

As a result, it was concluded that older adults who took at least one or more than an hour’s nap a day had a 40 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than those who did not take a nap every day or took less than an hour a day. Even when factors such as daily activities, diseases and drugs taken were examined, there was no random change in the findings obtained.

The number of neurons that support wakefulness is lower in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients

On the other hand, a University of California study found that longer naps only reduce aging up to a certain point. reveals a normal module and offers a potential mechanism to explain why dementia patients take more frequent and longer naps.

Comparing the postmortem brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease with the brains of people without cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s patients were found to have fewer neurons in three regions of their brains that support wakefulness. It turned out that these neuronal changes were related to tau proteins, a feature of Alzheimer’s, where the protein that helps stabilize healthy neurons forms clusters that prevent communication in the middle of neurons.

This means that although the study does not provide conclusive evidence that increased daytime sleepiness causes cognitive decline, it does point to long-term naps as a potential signal for accelerated aging. More research is needed to determine whether tracking daytime sleep will help detect cognitive decline.