The neurocognitive disorder Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 5 million Americans. Its prevalence is expected to triple by 2060. People affected by Alzheimer’s disease have increasing problems with memory, judgement and doing daily tasks of living as the disease progresses. Various studies have indicated that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and that people with OSA have increased levels of certain biomarkers (e.g., amyloid beta protein) associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have recently noted increased levels of biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s disease in young children with OSA.
Sleep is essential for the normal growth, development and mood regulation in children and adolescents. Unresolved sleep issues may present as “sleepy” or “overtired” children in the daycare setting or classroom, and these children may actually be manifesting underlying inattention or hyperactivity.