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Prolonged Sleep Telling Sign of Developing Dementia

Update Date: Feb 26, 2017 06:53 PM EST

A recent study in the journal Neurology suggests that older people who begin sleeping longer than 9 hours at night have a higher risk of developing dementia.

While there was no increased risk among elders who have always slept 9 hours or more according to the New York Times, those who recently felt the need to get some extra slumber time might be facing some problems in the future.

Web MD reported that senior who starts to snooze 9 hours and longer as they got older are believed to have increased their chances of having dementia by 2.5 times more. Researchers also suggested that education might help prevent dementia.

The researchers found that the possibility of developing dementia increased sixfold among older people without a high school diploma who suddenly felt the need to get extra hours of sleep at night.

Matthew Pase, neurology fellow at the Boston University School of Medicine and co-author of the study said that sleeping longer as people age doesn't mean they will eventually develop dementia. What their research show is an association between the 2 but does not establish a cause and effect relationship.

Dr. Sudha Seshadri, neurology professor, also from Boston University School of Medicine and senior author of the study said that there is no need to restrict sleep. Pase also said they found no implications that would need treatment based on their research.

Pase further suggests it might be a good idea to monitor sleep and get a memory assessment when one suddenly becomes an extended sleeper.

Dr. Seshadri guessed that the need to sleep for a few more hours is a 'compensatory mechanism" wherein the brain is trying to remove amyloid protein, a toxic protein that builds up plaque formations in the brain that causes Alzheimer's disease. The doctor cautioned it's only a hypothesis and further research is needed to determine if it is so.

Researchers used data from about 2,500 people with an average age of 72 who were part of the Framingham Heart Study that has been monitoring participants and their descendants since 1948.

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