Understanding the Shocking Link Between Sleep Problems and Dementia

The Institute for Dementia Research & Prevention reports that approximately 1-in-10 men and 1-in-6 women will likely be diagnosed with symptoms of dementia after they reach the age of 55.  The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, more than 60 percent of dementia patients are subsequently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

What Exactly is Dementia?

Dementia is a fairly broad term that includes a number of pathophysiological conditions. For example, the most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Nevertheless, forms of dementia include Parkinson’s disease, Shy-Drager syndrome, Huntington’s disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The Connection Between Sleep Disorders and Dementia

The link between sleep issues and dementia share the same conundrum as the chicken and the egg – do people with dementia simply have sleep problems, or do sleep problems contribute to the development of dementia?  The definitive answer remains unknown, but is the subject of multiple studies.

Check out this NBC News report about the link between sleep problems and dementia:

How Chronic Insomnia Could be an Early Predictor of Dementia

A link was discovered between sleep deprivation and increased risk for Alzheimer’s in a recent medical study. Researchers notes that levels of amyloid-beta protein in the bloodstream increased during waking periods and declined during sleep. This is important because amyloid-beta protein can be found in the brain plaques that are prevalent in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Patients with dementia often suffer from sleep apnea for much of their life, including chronic snoring and sleep disturbances. Many experts believe sleep apnea is directly correlated to the development of severe dementia. For example, studies have shown that 90 percent of Alzheimer’s patients reported at least five respiratory events per hour of sleep.

Have Questions About Long-Term Care? Speak to an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

If you are taking care of an elderly loved one or are concerned about a loved one needing long-term care, consider reaching out to an experienced Ashburn estate planning attorney for advice. In addition, check out these helpful resources that go more in-depth on the link between dementia and sleep disorders:

Guide to Dementia and Sleep Disorders

Seniors’ Guide to Sleep and Aging