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Sleep Apnea and Dementia

 Is there person you are caring for sleeping more during then day?  Is that person up frequently at night? To reverse this cycle and get a “good night sleep” the approach has been “keep the person physically active during the day so they sleep better at night”.  I have come to learn that being up could be to a condition called sleep apnea.

 What is sleep apnea?

 Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night's sleep, you might have sleep apnea. The main types of sleep apnea are: Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.  Mayo Clinic report 

  Link between sleep apnea and dementia 

New studies released at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London show more evidence that sleep apnea contributes to a greater risk of dementia. The research also suggests that any sleep-disordered breathing may accelerate the progression to Alzheimer's disease. The link between apnea (not breathing), hypopnea (under-breathing) and dementia had been identified before, with age being the most common explanation, because the sleep breathing problems tend to strike older adults. But findings suggest that sleep-disordered breathing leads to a buildup of a key marker for Alzheimer’s.  AARP.org  

 Why is this happening????

 Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore found that getting less sleep or sleeping poorly was tied to an increase in brain levels of beta-amyloid, a toxic protein that builds up and forms plaques in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s. The researchers couldn’t say whether poor sleep caused the accelerated buildup of beta-amyloid, or whether beta-amyloid accumulation was a cause of poor sleep. It’s also possible that both may be true: That poor sleep may cause beta-amyloid accumulation, and that enhanced beta-amyloid in turn disrupts sleep. 

Can this be treated?

 “These findings are important, in part because sleep disturbances can be treated in older people,” said Dr. Adam Spira, the study’s lead author. “To the degree that poor sleep promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for poor sleep or efforts to maintain healthy sleep patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease ALZ info.org   

Conclusion: Sleep apnea may accelerate the progression of dementia. Because poor sleep can be caused by other factors, it is important to get a physician consult. 

In becoming more informed about the impact of sleep apnea on dementia, I have learned of sleep apnea treatment options include: wearing an oral/dental appliance. Dr. Portales a dentist in N.J. informed me that The American Dental Association has adopted a policy for all dentists to screen patients for sleep-related breathing disorders.

 I am here to help YOU – When faced with the responsibility of caring for an adult with dementia; I provide personalized solutions, practical strategies and ongoing support that restore your peace of mind.  Contact me 

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