Dementia is a condition that is placing significant hardship and tragedy upon families. In fact, there are more than 7 million Americans aged 65 and older suffering from this condition. By 2040, this figure is expected to rise to 12 million.
Dementia is caused by damage to brain cells, as well as the loss of nerve cells and their connections to the brain. However, researchers are still studying how exactly these brain cells are damaged in otherwise healthy adults.
Bedtime and sleep patterns are specific areas being studied. Read on to learn how your bedtime routine is linked to dementia, and how sleep disorders can accelerate this terrible condition.
What Is Dementia?
A chronic condition that impairs daily life, dementia includes Alzheimer’s disease and other related neurological conditions.
The major symptoms involve memory loss, declining social abilities, and difficulty thinking. This condition eventually prevents a person from independently managing their own life.
This loss of autonomy places a substantial burden on family members and close friends. It is time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally taxing to everyone involved in the patient’s daily care.
What Does Bedtime Have to Do with Dementia?
Did you know that too much sleep can leave you vulnerable to this terrible condition? We have been preconditioned to believe that more sleep is a good thing, but medical research shows otherwise for people aged 65 and older.
The surprising link between bedtime and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s was first discovered by researchers at Boston University. They tracked diagnoses and sleep patterns over a 10-year period.
In 2017, the researchers published their findings showing that more than 9 hours of sleep per night is a risk factor. Those study participants that consistently slept more than 9 hours per night were twice as likely to develop a neurological condition like Alzheimer’s.
A more recent study conducted by researchers in China, Sweden, and the United Kingdom showed even tighter results. Study participants were tracked over a four-year period, and researchers found that more than more than 8 hours in bed was a significant risk factor.
A person’s bedtime was also a contributing factor. People who went to bed before 10 pm were at a greater risk as they were generally getting more sleep.
Researchers hypothesized that a patient’s neurological state could make them want to go to bed earlier. The medical term is called sundowning.
It means that the patient has brain fatigue after a long day and it pushes them to sleep earlier. Those with unusual patterns should reach out to sleep specialists to improve and optimize their schedule.
Your Guide to Sleep Patterns and Neurological Condition
The good news is that these studies provide us with a lead to address it. Getting high-quality sleep will leave you refreshed and needing fewer total hours.
Our sleep center can evaluate your patterns and optimize your sleep schedule. If you are concerned about excess sleep and its link to dementia, contact us today to schedule an appointment with an expert.