A study by Harvard University and the University of California San Francisco has found that napping in the afternoon could be a sign of dementia in older adults. This study comes after the two universities conducted a study for years to find other disease symptoms. The study participants were aged 80 and above.
The researchers also found that older adults who took one nap or more daily had a 40% more chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. This disease is among the types of dementia.
Past studies have found that people who don’t get enough quality sleep could risk increased cognitive decline and dementia. However, fewer have looked into how sleeping too much could affect the brain. This study shows that it could also be a symptom of dementia.
Dementia treatment is more effective if the disease is found early
Dementia in older adults is a big global problem. Approximately 900,000 people in the U.K and 5 million in the U.S have died after developing dementia. There are many therapies that slow disease progression. However, there is no cure for dementia. The treatment for dementia works more effectively if the disease is diagnosed early.
Scientists are trying to find out more symptoms of dementia to ensure they diagnose the problem early, thus making treatment more effective. This study has contributed significantly to that.
How researchers conducted the study
The researchers gathered 1400 patients with an average age of 81. They used mobility teaching devices to evaluate the volunteers. The study took 14 years, and researchers would assess patients for two weeks each year.
After six years, the team realised that about 25% of the participant who initially had no signs of cognitive decline had developed Alzheimer’s disease. The volunteers who later showed signs of cognitive decline increased their nap times by 11 times per year. Those who showed mild symptoms increased it to 24 minutes, while those that developed Alzheimer’s Disease increased it to 68 minutes.
The team also found out why people with dementia take more naps. The reason was that people with Alzheimer’s had fewer neurons that promoted wakefulness. Researchers found this after examining the post-mortem brains of people with the disease.