BOSTON — If you want to avoid getting a form of dementia in your later years, you should consider how long you sleep, a recent study finds. That’s because if you snooze for too long, you may actually doing your brain a disservice.
Researchers at Boston University Medical Center examined data from 2,457 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, an established and ongoing project. They found that those who slept nine hours or more a night had double the risk of developing dementia than those who slept less than nine hours.
Interestingly, the authors note that the increased incidence of dementia among those who sleep more was largely correlated with also having a low level of education — e.g. less than a high school diploma. In fact, those who didn’t graduate high school were six times as likely to develop dementia within 10 years. “These results suggest that being highly educated may protect against dementia in the presence of long sleep duration,” co-author Sudha Seshadri, a professor of neurology, explains in a university release.
If you routinely sleep for too long, a dementia screening may be in order
Seshadri and her colleagues indicate that excessive sleep may very well just be a symptom of early-stage dementia or memory loss. “While self-reported sleep duration may be a useful clinical tool to help predict persons at risk of progressing to clinical dementia within 10 years,” they provide, it might just be a case of making the best with the cards you’re dealt.
Screening for dementia and related diseases as soon as possible can lead to the best overall outcomes.
Nevertheless, this finding is more timely than ever considering that dementia — a broad categorical term that includes specific diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — is expected to continue to grow in incidence in the coming years amongst senior citizens.
By 2025, it is expected that 7.1 million Americans over the age of 65 will have Alzheimer’s.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Neurology.