Alzheimer's disease: researchers have found short and long sleep reduces cognitive ability

Living Smart

Sleep is essential to our health and well-being. However, moderate sleep is best in everything, including sleep. Too much or too little sleep can affect cognitive abilities, according to a new study published in the journal Brain.
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This study is led by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. Louis found that older people who slept more or less experienced greater cognitive decline than those who slept moderately, even after considering the consequences of early Alzheimer's disease.

"Short and long sleep reduces cognitive ability, probably due to lack of sleep or poor sleep quality," said Dr. Brendan Lucey, MD, an associate professor of neurology and director of the Washington University Sleep Medicine Center, as quoted by Science Daily.

The study also found a midrange of total sleep time or sweat spots where cognitive abilities remained stable over time.

Sleep, Alzheimer's disease, and cognitive function

Both sleep deprivation and Alzheimer's disease are associated with cognitive decline, and separating the effects of each has been a major challenge for researchers. After years of research, the University of Washington team was able to unravel a complex link between sleep, Alzheimer's disease, and cognitive function. They did this by detecting cognitive function in a large group of older people and testing it for measurements of protein levels and sleep brain activity associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Cognitive decline in the elderly is mainly due to Alzheimer's disease, which accounts for about 70% of dementia. Sleep deprivation is a common symptom of Alzheimer's disease and is also known to accelerate the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Previous studies have shown that short-term and long-term sleepers have poor cognitive abilities, but such studies usually do not include an assessment of the cognitive effects of Alzheimer's disease.

In a new study, researchers analyzed sleep and Alzheimer's disease data from 100 participants whose cognitive function was monitored for an average of four and a half years. Among them, 88 had no cognitive impairment, 11 had mild impairment, and 1 had mild cognitive impairment. The average age of volunteers at the time of the survey was 75 years.

A research team at the University of Washington found a U-shaped link between sleep and cognitive decline. Cognitive scores decreased in participants who slept less than 4.5 hours or more than 6.5 hours per night as measured by EEG, but remained stable in participants in the middle of the range. EEG estimates of sleep time are typically about an hour shorter than self-reported sleep time. When it comes to self-reported sleep, findings suggest that you sleep less than 5.5 hours or more than 7.5 hours a night, Lucy explains.

This relationship was still present after adjusting for factors that could affect sleep and cognition, such as age, gender, protein levels in Alzheimer's disease, and the presence of high-risk APOE4 Alzheimer's disease gene variants.

However, each person's sleep needs are unique, so those who wake up on short or long sleep schedules do not need to change their habits, Lucy said.

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