From the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA):
Older adults with abnormal sleep patterns, whether it’s too much sleep, too little sleep, or restless sleep, have an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to three new studies.
The first study, which utilized participants in the larger U.S. Nurses’ Health Study, administered cognitive tests to women over the age of 70 every two years over a six year period. Participants were also asked about their average daily sleep duration. Researchers found that women who averaged seven hours of sleep daily saw higher cognitive scores over the years compared to women who reported 5 hours or less or those who reported 9 hours or more. Participants who averaged too much or too little sleep aged, on average, two years faster than those who slept seven hours a night.
A separate study monitored 1,430 women over age 75 while they slept and measured these individuals cognitive impairment over time. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found that participants with sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea, were nearly twice as likely to develop cognitive impairment. The study also found that those who woke up in the middle of the night most often were at triple the risk for entering a nursing home compared to those who experienced the fewest interruptions.
A third study followed 4,900 French seniors who were 65 or older. This study found that certain sleep problems, such as problems falling asleep and early morning awakenings, were not associated with increased risk of cognitive decline, but those who felt excessively tired during the day were more likely to experience cognitive impairments.
Although researchers are not sure if inadequate sleep is a cause or a result of cognitive impairment, the studies, taken together, make a strong case for sleep’s involvement in Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline.
Learn more about the Assisted Living Federation of America.