Studies confirm what many people already know: Sleep gets worse with age. Middle-aged and older adults often sleep less deeply, wake more frequently at night, or awake too early in the morning. Could these problems be related to risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease?
Scientists are beginning to probe the complex relationship between the brain changes involved in poor sleep and those in very early-stage Alzheimer’s. It’s an intriguing area of research, given that both risk for disturbed sleep and Alzheimer’s increase with age.
“Nearly 60 percent of older adults have some kind of chronic sleep disturbance,” said Phyllis Zee, Ph.D., a sleep expert at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago.
It’s long been known that people with Alzheimer’s often have sleep problems—getting their days and nights mixed up, for example. Now scientists are probing the link between sleep and Alzheimer’s earlier in the disease process and in cognitively normal adults. They wonder if improving sleep with existing treatments might help memory and other cognitive functions—and perhaps delay or prevent Alzheimer’s. Read more...