October 30, 2018
Once again researchers have found evidence of the critical role quality sleep plays on our overall health. And addressing the common causes of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) could have huge implications for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
From sleep apnea which, left untreated, can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes and other ailments, to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers continue to discover why we need to sleep. Now investigators from the Intramural Research Program (IRP) of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) are saying feeling excessively sleepy during the day could be a sign of increased risk for the brain pathology of Alzheimer’s disease.
According to a new study published in the September 25, 2018 issue of the journal Sleep, older adults who felt sleepy during the day when they wanted to be awake were almost three times more likely to have deposits of beta-amyloid—the protein that clumps in the brain as part of Alzheimer’s pathology. The research team was led by Dr. Adam Spira of Johns Hopkins University and included Dr. Murat Bilgel, Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, Dr. Susan Resnick and Dr. Eleanor Simonsick of NIA’s Intramural Research Program.
Using Neuroimaging Substudy data from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), researchers looked at the reported daytime sleepiness levels and napping habits of 124 cognitively healthy men and women and then matched that information with PET and MRI scan results from an average of 16 years later. The BLSA is America's longest-running study of human aging.
Between 1991 and 2000, BLSA participants were asked “Do you often become drowsy or fall asleep during the daytime when you wish to be awake? (e.g. falling asleep watching TV or reading).” They also were asked, “Do you nap?”