Medical researchers have been hard at work to discover the cause for Alzheimer ’s disease and extract a cure. Incredibly, this disease affects over 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older. This number is estimated to increase to over 13 million by 2050.
Many things are known about this disease, including the fact that the pathologic findings in the brain may be found 10 to 20 years before clinical symptoms begin. What events trigger and cause the pathologic findings to occur remains unknown. Because the brain lesions begin before the disease is suspected, tests such as biomarkers have been explored to help with early diagnosis.
Recently, a report of a large study of 500,000 patients in the UK has uncovered the fact that long sleep times may be associated with the development of Alzheimer ’s disease. Specifically, this new research suggests that middle age men who get more than 9 hours of sleep each night are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer ’s disease within 6 years.
Sleep disturbances are common and on the rise around the world in recent years. In this study, sleep apnea, snoring, and daytime sleeping or naps were not associated with the 9 hour sleep findings.
There is as yet no definite test to diagnose early Alzheimer ’s disease. However, continued exploration of blood tests, such as biomarkers, and ongoing sleep observations, may define the development of this disease in middle age and assist with treatment plans that cure or minimize the disease.