Sleeping Too Long Could Affect Future AMD Risk

Sleeping Too Long Could Affect Future AMD Risk

Oscar Wilde, the iconic Irish poet and playwright, once said, 

“Everything in moderation, including moderation”

This has often been the path of those with strong character and resilience reaping good results, particularly when it comes to health benefits. Too much meat can lead to some possible health compromises; too much sugar can create a disease prone environment; even consuming too much water could actually kill you. 

So it may come as no surprise that the great sanctity of sleep can and should also be regulated into a manageable amount to prevent disease, particularly when it comes to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Once aspect of sleep and sight is shown in research that explores how sleeping too long could affect future AMD risk.  

Not Too Little, Not Too Much

Scientists have forever been studying sleep with many still unsure of how important it actually is. However, the more it is studied, the more it proves to be as essential as all that we benefit from while awake. Yet, most people do not get enough which comes with all sorts of potential future ramifications including a possible link to lack of sleep leading to Alzheimer’s disease. 

According to Dr Jennifer Hurley, lead researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in New York who studied the link between Alzheimer’s disease and lack of sleep, 

“Circadian disruption is correlated with Alzheimer’s diagnosis and it has been suggested that sleep disruptions could be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease,…Taking care of our sleep or circadian rhythms – sometimes called good sleep hygiene – may be able to reduce amyloid beta [brain plaque] burden over our lifespan,…Reducing amyloid burden could mean a reduction in Alzheimer’s symptoms or a delay in the onset or progression of the disease.”

As a result of this and many other studies, cognitive health relies on a good amount of deep, REM – rapid eye movement, sleep. However, too much sleep can also be a problem. When it comes to Alzheimers disease the fear of losing memories, both long or short term, will propel many at risk to do anything they can to increase their sleep duration. However, too much sleep may now, it has been shown, possibly cause a problem as well; AMD risk. 

“Everything in moderation”

Good Sleep Hygiene

Once humans realized that one-third of their life is spent sleeping you may think sleep would become as essential as eating. However, for some reason, good sleep hygiene is not something people put high on their list. Most just drop on the bed at the end of the day giving little regard to sleep space setup and sleep duration. 

Good sleep hygiene means taking into consideration a healthy 6-8 hours of deep sleep per night. Anything remotely before or after this time window, in an accumulated scenario, could result in potential harm to vision, namely the macula and the retina. Lack of sleep has long been the main focus as many report struggling to make it through the night uninterrupted. However, there is an archival study that is one of the few research projects which looked at the other end of the spectrum, too much sleep.

If your sleep setup could use improving, think of putting more effort into your sleep space which will certainly help your sleep duration. To strengthen your sleep space, give some attention to:

  • Mattress – Should not be over ten to fifteen years old. Firm mattresses show more spine support which could decrease tossing and turning and help extend sleep. 
  • Linens – Investing in good sheets, blankets, comforters, and pillow cases can make a big difference in sleep hygiene. 
  • Temperature and Sleepwear – Many people sleep in the wrong temperature causing sleep compromise. If you cannot change the surrounding temperature, change your sleepwear. For the cold, wear socks, long leggings and long sleeves, even a knit hat. For the heat, wear light, loose, breathable material.
  • Ambiance – Aroma, sound, and light control can all help good sleep hygiene. Try lavender or jasmine essential oils on skin pulse points, set up a white noise or nature sound machine if outside noise is an issue; wear a sleep mask for a surprising embrace over the eyes that feels soothing. 

These simple sleep hygiene changes may get you to a more optimal 6-8 hour sleep window which, if uninterrupted, could be that perfect ‘sweet spot’ to help prevent age-related macular degeneration.

Clinical Study of Extended Sleep and AMD

Looking at extended sleep is almost like researching excessive sugar consumption or too much physical activity, the body will sometimes adversely react. With so much concentration on the health compromises associated with lack of sleep, few looked at the risks of excessive sleep. In one clinical study of extended sleep and a possible link to AMD progression there were some valid considerations. 

Published in the journal Retina, conducted by researchers from the Department of Ophthalmology and Department of Internal Medicine, Sleep Disorders Center, University of California, it was investigated how, ‘Increasing Sleep Duration Is Associated With Geographic Atrophy And Age-Related Macular Degeneration’. The reported findings showed, 

“This study explored the relationship between sleep patterns and age-related macular degeneration (AMD)…One thousand and three consecutive patients in a retina practice were prospectively surveyed regarding sleep histories…Multivariable analysis was performed after adjustment for age, gender, and smoking history…Longer sleep duration is associated with geographic atrophy secondary to AMD. These altered sleep patterns may be another morbidity of AMD, but further study is necessary.”

According to lead researcher Dr. Rahul N. Khurana, 

“The mean sleep duration for patients without AMD was 7.97 hours, compared with 8.17 hours, 9.00 hours, and 8.97 hours, respectively, for those with early AMD, neovascular AMD, and geographic atrophy.”

Although more sleep research of AMD links is underway, the study by Dr. Khurana has paved the way for looking at both sides of the coin. Overall, it reminds us of the mysteriously important clues associated with healthy sleep and how we can take part in controlling our slumber to our advantage. From Alzheimer’s disease to AMD, re-evaluate your sleep to make sure your risk factor is considerably minimized.