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Excessive daytime sleepiness in older adults could be an indicator of plaque buildup in the brain, increasing risk of dementia


Excessive daytime sleepiness in older people could be a sign of plaque buildup in the brain, increasing the risk of dementia, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

As people age, the tendency to be extra sleepy during daytime increases. Excessive daytime sleepiness has been associated with cognitive decline in older adults. Yet, whether excessive daytime sleepiness is linked to the pathological processes of Alzheimer’s disease remains unknown. Therefore, researchers from Mayo Clinic investigated whether being extremely sleepy during daytime is an indicator of plaque buildup in the brain, increasing risk of dementia.

In the study, the researchers included 283 participants enrolled in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, which is a longitudinal population-based study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. The participants of the study were 70 years old or older without dementia and had a minimum of two consecutive Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography (PiB-PET) scans from January 1, 2009 through July 31, 2016. They accomplished surveys that assessed sleepiness at baseline.

The results of the study revealed that 63 out of 283 participants had excessive daytime sleepiness. Excessive daytime sleepiness was also proven to be associated with increased longitudinal plaque buildup in older people without dementia. The findings of the study suggest that those with excessive daytime sleepiness may be more prone to pathological changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also suggested that early detection of patients with excessive daytime sleepiness and treatment of underlying sleep disorders could lower amyloid beta (Aβ) accumulation in older people. (Related: Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease overtake heart disease as the leading cause of death in America.)

More on excessive daytime sleepiness

Excessive daytime sleepiness, also known as excessive sleepiness, is not a disorder but a symptom that can have various causes, such as poor sleep habits, a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea, side effects from certain medication, and other underlying medical conditions. According to the National Sleep Foundation, around 20 percent of the population experience excessive daytime sleepiness. People who have excessive daytime sleepiness experience feeling drowsy and sluggish most days, which often disrupt work, school, activities, or relationships. Another name for excessive daytime sleepiness is hypersomnia. Other symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness include constant tiredness, low energy, irritability, anxiety, loss of appetite, slow thinking or speech, having a hard time recalling information, and restlessness.

Tips on fighting hypersomnia

Hypersomnia, when neglected, can be life-threatening and dangerous to others. That’s why it is important to learn how to manage it. One of the things to do is to check for sleep apnea, which is a serious sleep disorder where a person stops breathing periodically during the night, causing them to wake sometimes without their knowledge. Snoring loudly and waking up gasping are some signs of sleep apnea. Hypersomnia can also be a possible side effect of taking prescription medication. Medications such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and medications for chronic pain are most likely to cause excessive daytime sleepiness.

Another tip on fighting hypersomnia is avoiding alcohol, as it can make it worse. In contrast, caffeine can help fight excessive daytime sleepiness by keeping a person awake. Another way to fight excessive daytime sleepiness is staying active. Staying active does not only help a person keep awake but it is also beneficial for overall health. Lastly, take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. It is an online tool that can help measure a person’s level of sleepiness during the day. A high score in the Epworth test means a high level of sleepiness and seeking a healthcare professional is needed.

Read more news stories and studies on dementia by going to Alzheimers.news.

Sources include:

JAMANetwork.com

SleepFoundation.org

HuffingtonPost.com

Healthline.com

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