Poor sleep may put you at greater Alzheimer's risk

Francis Osborne
July 7, 2017

But the new research looked beyond amyloid and tau levels, for other biological markers of Alzheimer's disease in seemingly healthy adults. However, not everyone with sleep problems had abnormalities in their spinal fluid.

The picture presented comes from studying the tau protein in a single person's brain who died with Alzheimer's disease.

This build-up is known to cause toxic clumps in the brain, which are believed to be the signature hallmark of the disease. Such buildup can be harmful to the brain and cognition.

"It remains unknown whether poor sleep is associated with Alzheimer's risk or whether people are sleeping poorly due to Alzheimer's disease". The study found no link between Alzheimer's and obstructive sleep apnoea, the researchers pointed out.

The study recruited 101 people with an average age of 63 who had normal thinking and memory skills but who were considered at risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Worldwide, about 50 million people live with dementia - the most common type being Alzheimer's disease. The findings of the study conducted in the USA shows that people who have worse sleep qualities, more sleeping problems and daytime sleepiness, are indicating towards Alzheimer's disease as compared to those who don't face sleep problems.

They either had a parent with the disease or were a carrier of a gene that increases the risk for Alzheimers disease called apolipoprotein E or APOE.

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"Participants in our study were willing to undergo a lumbar puncture to move research on Alzheimer's disease forward", said co-author Barbara Bendlin of the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. While tau filaments are formed within the nerve cells of the brain, beta amyloid proteins are formed outside the nerve cells in the form of filaments.

'Our study looked not only for amyloid but for other biological markers in the spinal fluid as well.

But overall, the researchers say that poor sleep could be a potential contributor to Alzheimer's disease progression-and one that people may be able to do something about before it's too late.

'Sleep may be a modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer's disease during the earliest stages of the disease, before dementia symptoms appear'.

"Amyloid structures can form in many different ways, so it has been unclear how close these lab versions resembled those in human disease". As the mice slept, their brains actually changed shape, expanding to allow them to better flush out these toxins that had built up during the day, The Huffington Post reported.

For example, there was no association seen between people who had sleep apnea and markers for Alzheimer's in their spinal fluid.

Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer's Association, agreed: "This new study suggests there may be an opportunity to improve cognition and possibly reduce dementia risk through early diagnosis and effective treatment of sleep disorders".

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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