Patients with Alzheimer’s often complain of changes in their sleep patterns during the early stages of the disease. In healthy people, for example, daytime naps usually last around 20 minutes, but they can be to 3 hours long in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers analyzed data from around 14,600 healthy people, collected as part of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), a long-term observational study of people aged 50 and over from 12 European countries. They looked at various measures of sleep quality, and used them to produce a ‘sleep disturbance index’.
The researchers found that participants who reported sleeping restlessly, feeling tired during the day and taking sleep medication were more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s within the next 2 years, and that the greater the extent of these problems, the more severe were the symptoms of the subsequent disease."