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Published on: October 5, 2013
by Pat Hagan for Daily Mail:
An extra hour or two spent lounging around in bed is just the kind of treat that makes weekends special.
But according to a study, too many lie-ins could speed up memory loss – and possibly increase the risk of dementia. A team of researchers carried out a three-year study of 2,700 people aged in their sixties and seventies.
At the beginning of the investigation, each one was assessed using the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) – a test designed to assess changes in brain function. During the subsequent three years, patients kept detailed records of their sleeping patterns.
These revealed that 49 per cent were ‘normal’ sleepers, getting six to eight hours a night, and 40 per cent were long sleepers – totalling more than nine hours a night. The remainder averaged five hours or less.
At the end of the experiment, the volunteers took the MMSE test again. All three groups got lower scores than they had done three years earlier.
But the decline in brain function was greatest in the long sleepers – almost double that of the people getting six to eight hours sleep a night.
In a report on their findings, the researchers from the University Hospital in Madrid and Columbia University in New York said: ‘The difference between long and normal sleepers was significant. Their scores declined more rapidly.’
Dr Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘This research suggests that the length of time you sleep and cognitive health might be linked.
‘But further studies are needed to understand whether sleep duration is a cause or effect of cognitive decline.’
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