For many people, the chance to have lie-in most mornings is one of the luxuries things after retirement. But according to the new study, it could also be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists studying a cohort of over-60s noticed that those people who consistently slept for more than nine hours every night were twice as likely to contract the neurological condition compared to those who slept for less than nine hours per day.
About 7 per cent of people above the age of 65 develop Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia and the risk is expected to double after every five years. It is advised that people can reduce their risk by waking up earlier, still, as the researchers behind the new study said the inability to wake up early is mostly a symptom rather than a cause of the disease.
As it is impossible to stop or cure dementia, the onset of disease can be lowered down and patients can be helped to adapt to the condition if doctors find them at risk.
The recent findings are based on data gathered from more than 2,400 patients who participated in the Framingham Heart Study, a major US investigation into heart disease risk factors.
Participants, having age 72, were asked the time duration of their sleep and were monitored for a period of 10 years. Overall 234 cases of dementia were recorded over the follow-up period. Sleeping for more than nine hours doubled the risk of all types of dementia and specifically Alzheimer’s. It was also linked with a smaller brain volume.
Dr. Rosa Sancho, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “As unusual sleep patterns are common for people with dementia, these findings contributes to existing research saying that changes in sleep could be evident long before symptoms like memory loss begins to start.
“Other findings have established a link between changes in sleep quality and the onset of dementia, and while this wasn’t considered in this study, it could be an important factor hampering sleep duration.”