Taking a daily nap when I do not have anything else on my calendar is a traditional ritual that goes back to elementary school: most of my friends grew up without sleeping during the day, but I love napping. I used my lunch break to doze for 15 minutes before, and my claim to fame is falling asleep for four hours in the middle seat of a plane full of people. I usually joke about always being tired, but a new study by JAMA Neurology says that daytime fatigue could be a sign of Alzheimer's disease. However, there is an important reason why you should not worry about your afternoon coffee habit.
For this study, the researchers studied 283 older people who were already part of the Mayo Clinic Aging Study, an ongoing research study with more than 3,000 participants. All the people analyzed in this study were over 70 years old and about 22 percent had excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). The research team says the results suggest that "those with EDS may be more vulnerable to the pathological changes associated with Alzheimer's disease." (Excessive daytime sleepiness was diagnosed using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, a test in which you rate the likelihood that you will be numb in several situations). The research team observed brain scans over a period of seven years and found that those who reported feeling tired during the day had more amyloid in their brains. Amyloid is a protein that can cause plaque in the brain if there is an excessive amount, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
It is not necessarily accurate to say that being tired means that you will automatically develop a serious illness: a ton of factors contributes to the health of sleep, and the study researchers mention activity physical, depression, obesity and hypertension as factors that can affect the quality of sleep, but this research suggests that your brain is less vulnerable to the buildup of amyloid and less vulnerable to dementia and related conditions, if you have a healthy sleep schedule . "Because it has been proposed that sleep participate in the elimination of soluble [amyloid] it has been suggested that disturbed sleep contributes to accumulation [amyloid]," says the study. The researchers only analyzed the elderly, so we still do not know how the younger brains are affected, but this research is a reminder of the importance of sleep. "The excessive self-reported daytime sleepiness in the elderly was associated with a greater accumulation of cerebral amyloid over time.Amyloid deposition in the brain is one of the first distinctive signs of Alzheimer's disease," said the study's author, Dr. Prashanthi Vemuri, to Bustle. "This study states that interrupted sleep may be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease through increased amyloid deposition."
In short, you have another reason to make sure you get enough sleep every night. If you are tired during the day, even while sleeping well, it could be indicative of a medical problem, and it may be worth talking to a doctor. But if you take naps because you stay up too late, it's a good idea to give up early tonight. Your body needs sleep to keep you healthy, and a decent sleep schedule can help protect you in the long term. The study says that additional research should analyze whether the treatment of excessive daytime sleepiness has any effect on the production and accumulation of amyloid.
I do not believe that I voluntarily renounce my naps during the day, but I am looking askance at my body for longing to sleep all the time. Why am I so tired in the first place, and does it mean something more serious? I will not know until I talk to my doctor, but I will definitely mention it after reading this research. It provides another reason why sleep deprivation, even if it is not intentional, is a bad idea.