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The risk of dementia increases from nine hours of sleep per night
Possible connections between sleep times and the development of dementia have long been discussed. A current study has now come to the conclusion that there is a clear connection with the risk of dementia disease, especially when sleeping long - at least in Hispanic population groups.
Those who sleep more than nine hours a night are at increased risk of dementia, according to the research team at the University of Miami Miller School. A connection that is quite surprising, especially since short sleep (less than six hours a night) was not associated with a decline in cognitive abilities. The study results were published in the specialist magazine "Alzheimer's & Dementia".
Effects on cognitive skills examined
According to the researchers, people in the United States with Latin American or Hispanic origins are at higher risk of dementia “than non-Hispanic whites”, which is why the current study specifically targeted this population group. Professor Dr. Alberto R. Ramos and his team analyzed the data from 16,000 Hispanic people in Chicago, Miami, San Diego and New York City. 5,247 participants between the ages of 45 and 75 completed a cognitive test at the beginning of the study period and repeated it after seven years. The duration of sleep, the presence of sleep apnea, tiredness during the day and sleep disorders that occurred were also recorded.
Learning ability and memory performance impaired
"Chronic sleep disorders and prolonged sleep seem to be associated with a decline in cognitive functions that can precede the onset of Alzheimer's disease or other dementias," summarizes Dr. Ramos summarized the results of the data analysis. Based on the test results, it became clear that sleeping phases of more than nine hours per night are associated with a decline in so-called episodic learning and memory performance. The execution function and the processing speed in the brain of those affected are clearly impaired.
Sleep time indicator of cognitive impairment?
The identified cognitive impairments can precede the development of dementia or Alzheimer's disease and should therefore be assessed as an indication of an increased risk of illness. Doctors should also be aware that there is a connection between sleep times and cognitive impairments, says Dr. Ramos continues. It may be possible to use the sleep times to identify risk patients who can benefit from early intervention. The study director emphasizes that this could reduce the risk of dementia or even prevent the disease altogether.
Further studies required
According to the research team, the current study results are of particular importance to the Hispanic population in the USA, as they are at a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer's than non-Hispanic whites. But the findings also have a general scope. In particular, the connection between the risk of dementia and long sleep times has only been marginally discussed among experts. Future research should include a quantification of the effect, taking into account potential connections with so-called cerebrovascular diseases, which could be the reason for the cognitive decline, according to the US research team. (fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters
- Alberto R. Ramosa, et al .: Sleep and neurocognitive decline in the Hispanic Community Health Study / Study of Latinos; in: Alzheimer's & Dementia (published 09.10.2019), alzheimersanddementia.com
- University of Miami Miller School of Medicine: Study links sleep disturbances and Alzheimer's among Hispanics (published 10/10/2019), eurekalert.org