While Alzheimer’s can present itself in many different ways, a new study in the journal Neurology says that oversleeping could be one of the early symptoms of the disease. While sleep disorders have previously been linked to Alzheimer’s, in this study, researchers looked to prove that oversleeping is a symptom rather than a possible cause, as previously suggested. If this finding is true, reducing the amount of time one sleeps would have no effect on whether or not that person goes on to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s important to note that when researchers use the word “oversleeping”, what they are referring to is people who are so exhausted that they have almost an inability to get out of bed. Researchers conducting this study found that people who slept for more than nine hours a night were two times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia over the next decade than people who slept less than nine hours a night. Participants who slept for longer than nine hours and also did not have a high school degree were found to be six times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, suggesting an education connection to the disease as well.
According to researchers, this study shows that having patients self-report their sleep patterns to their doctors might help to predict whether or not that person is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s or dementia. Patients who report longer sleep patterns could be referred to more testing, helping to treat and perhaps prevent cognitive diseases sooner.