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Excessive napping could be a sign of dementia, study finds

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Seniors who nap at least once a day or more than an hour a day were 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who didn’t nap daily or nap less than once. hour a day, according to the study published Thursday in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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

The results echo the findings of a previous study by Leng who found that napping for two hours a day increased the risk of cognitive impairment compared to a nap 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 between the ages of 74 and 88 (with an average age of 81).

“I don’t think the public knows that Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disease that often causes mood and sleep changes,” said Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Clinic. Alzheimer’s at the Center for Brain Health at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College. of Medicine.

“Excessive napping can be one of many clues that a person might be on the path to cognitive decline and trigger an in-person assessment with a primary physician,” said Isaacson, who was not involved in the study. .

Increased need for naps

The quality and quantity of sleep declines with age, often due to pain or complications from chronic conditions such as more frequent bathroom breaks. Thus, older people tend to take naps more often than when they were younger.

But daytime naps can also be a sign of brain changes “unrelated to nighttime sleep,” Leng said. She referred previous research this suggests that the development of tau tangles, a hallmark sign of Alzheimer’s disease, may affect wake-promoting neurons in key areas of the brain, thereby disrupting sleep.

For 14 days each year, participants in the current study wore a tracker that captured data about their movements; No movement for an extended period between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. was interpreted as a nap.

Although people may have read or watched TV, “we have developed a unique algorithm to define naps and to differentiate naps from no activity. We have not set a specific duration for the ‘extended nap,’ but we focused more on accumulated nap minutes per day and the change in nap length over the years,” Leng told CNN via email.

“Further studies are warranted with devices that are validated to detect sleep versus sedentary behavior,” Isaacson said. “But at the same time, being sedentary and not moving for long periods of time is a known risk factor for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Whatever the reason, falling asleep during the day or taking an excessive nap raises my antenna to focus on whether the person is at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline,” a- he declared.

Over the 14 years, the study found that daily daytime naps increased by an average of 11 minutes per year for adults who did not develop cognitive impairment. However, a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment doubled the nap time to a total of 24 minutes per day. People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s nearly tripled their nap time, to an average of 68 minutes a day.

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The “drastic increase” in the length and frequency of naps over the years appears to be a particularly strong signal, Leng said.

“I don’t think we have enough evidence to draw conclusions about a causal relationship, that it was the nap itself that caused cognitive aging, but excessive daytime napping could be a sign of accelerated aging or dementia. ‘a cognitive aging process,’ she said.

What to do?

Preferably, adults should limit daytime naps to 15 to 20 minutes before 3 p.m. to get the most restorative benefits from the nap and avoid impairing nighttime sleep, Leng said.

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Additionally, older adults and caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease should pay increased attention to daytime napping behaviors and be alert to signs of excessive or increased naps, she said. declared.

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

“I think it’s never too late for someone to make a brain-healthy lifestyle change or pay more attention to their brain health,” Isaacson said. “Making sleep a priority, paying attention to sleep quality, and talking to your doctor about sleep: these are all essential things.”