Can extra hours in bed lead to dementia?
Whether you are enjoying a quiet retirement or leading a busy career lifestyle, it is inevitable that sometimes you need an extra few hours in bed and deservedly so. As they say, a lie in is good for the heart and can lower the risk of high blood pressure – a huge factor that contributes to strokes and heart attacks. However, reports from The Telegraph suggest that people over the age of 60 that have more than 9 hours sleep each night are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who have less.
Affecting around 850,000 people in the UK with the number predicted to rise to reach 2025, dementia is a neurological condition with the most common form, Alzheimer’s. Although currently an incurable disease, prescribed drugs are available to slow the progression and alleviate some of the symptoms. Typical symptoms include memory loss, disorientation, personality changes and the inability to perform self-care tasks.
As dementia is slow to progress, it is difficult to diagnose and notice a problem instantly, especially as it affects older people - some put their memory loss simply down to ageing. Scientists are still not entirely sure what causes it but it is understood that genetic, environmental factors and lifestyle choices play a key part.
Based on data from more than 2,400 patients registered with the Framingham Heart Study, it has been a major US investigation into the factors which cause heart disease. Participants with the average age of 72 were asked about how many hours sleep they would typically have each night, considering any changes in the last 10 years. Over the follow-up period, 234 cases of dementia were recorded and the new studies suggested that sleeping over 9 hours doubled the risk of developing all types of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s.
According to Rosa Sancho, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, the US report supports existing research that unusual sleeping patterns may be noticeable much earlier than symptoms such as memory loss. Other studies also suggest that there is a link between any changes in sleep quality and the development of dementia.
At the end of last year, The Guardian reported a successful drug trial that could have the potential to treat dementia – essentially, the tablet switches off the production of toxic amyloid proteins. The tablet has been able to target the most visible sign of dementia, raising hope that it will not be too long until a cure is found.