Too Much Sleep = Dementia?

As the seasons change, I find myself awaking and sleeping with the sun; I’ve been sleeping in because of delayed sunrises and going to bed early because of advanced sunsets. Needless to say, I have been sleeping more. Today, I discovered this is not healthy, particularly because my family already has demonstrated to have genetic predispositions to Alzheimer’s. Every female on my mother’s side of the family (great grandmother, great aunts, grandmother) has died of Alzheimer’s thus far. Luckily, my two favorite vices, exercise and coffee, serve has protective mechanisms against Alzheimer’s by means of augmenting acetycholinergic activity. Alzheimer’s disease is intricately tied to acetylcholinergic neuromodulatory systems.

Why all this random talk about Alzheimer’s? Today, the National Sleep Foundation highlighted a recent study that found that long sleepers, people who sleep for 9 hours or more a day, including nightime sleep and daytime napping, have an increased risk of developing dementia, as assessed in a longitudinal study. Even more interesting, long sleepers are still remarkably more predisposed to developing dementia than short sleepers, people who sleep less than 7 hours a day. Quite the opposite of what a sleep researcher would expect.

If only the study dissected the neurobiology of these results. In the meantime, I must resist sleeping by the sun…..


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