Your Health Study Suggests Link between Poor Sleep and Alzheimer's

Violet Powell
July 12, 2017

Researchers at Washington University's School of Medicine found sleep disruption leads to an increase in two proteins that are connected with the disease.

Another study published July 10 in the journal Brain involved 17 healthy volunteers (men and women between 35 and 65 years of age).

Each time the participants drifted into deep sleep, a beeping monitor would rouse them out of it and into lighter sleep.

Amyloid is a protein that can fold and form into plaques in the brain, while another protein, Tau, forms into tangles.

Without proper deep sleep, brain cells continue to churn out, producing more A-beta and tau than a well-rested brain. Thus, the researches came to the conclusion that poor quality of sleep, daytime sleepiness and sleep problems are connected to increase this disease. Just one night of deep-sleep disruption was enough to increase the amount of amyloid-beta, a protein that clumps into brain cell-killing plaques in people with Alzheimer's.

"When people don't sleep well, their brain cells don't get a chance to rest", Dr. Yo-El Ju of Washington University.

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"At this point, we can't say whether improving sleep will reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's".

Prolonged periods of poor sleep could increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, although quality, not quantity, is at the root of the issue, research has revealed. "We think that perhaps chronic poor sleep during middle age may increase the risk of Alzheimer's later in life". But, she noted, not all participants showed a response to the sleep disruption - a result Ju says is down to them having little slow wave sleep in the first place.

Using a spinal tap, the researchers then measured amyloid beta and tau levels in the brain.

Carried out by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the U.S., the study adds to existing research which suggests sleep quality could be linked with the disease, CTV News reported. The sounds usually didn't wake the people up but kept them from getting any slow-wave sleep.

“We dont know what the chicken or egg cause is here, it may very well be that sleeping longer will help us to prevent us from developing or slow down the process of Alzheimers disease but we certainly dont have the definitive answer as yet, ” said Dr. Rao.

Certain illnesses can cause sleepless nights like depression, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.

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