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One Night of Poor Sleep Can Affect Your Alzheimer’s Risk

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerJuly 24, 2017

It’s no secret that people with Alzheimer’s disease struggle with quality sleep. Researchers, however, are unsure if poor sleep is a cause or consequence of the disease. What they do know is that poor sleep has a negative impact on brain health and the latest study to analyze the effects of sleep on the brain has found that just one night of poor sleep can raise Alzheimer’s associated proteins in the brain.

Learn more about this study and its importance in Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention methods.

Study Finds One Night of Poor Sleep Can Affect Your Alzheimer’s Risk

A new study published in Brain, has found that otherwise healthy adults showed a buildup of Alzheimer’s associated proteins in their cerebral spinal fluid when they were prevented from achieving the deepest stage of sleep.

The study, led by neurologist David Holtzman of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis included 17 volunteers. All the volunteers were healthy, between the ages of 35-65 and had no sleep disorders. The volunteers had their sleep tracked at home and in a lab. Researchers prevented volunteers from going into the deepest stage of sleep by having them wear headphones and they would send occasional beeps through the headphones — enough to disturb them, but not enough to fully wake them.

The study found that just one night of poor quality sleep was enough to increase beta-amyloid in the brain.

Furthermore, people in the study who slept poorly for a week also showed an increase in tau, another protein associated with Alzheimer’s. Spinal taps done on the participants found that more deep sleep was missed, the higher their toxic protein levels were in the morning.

Quality Sleep Has Big Impact on Brain Health

This study supports previous findings linking poor quality sleep to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Researchers think that sleeping cleans out the brain, flushing toxic proteins and that poor quality sleep interferes with this cycle.

Kristine Yaffe, neurologist and psychiatrist at the University of California San Francisco, said that this study, “suggests that there’s something special about deep, slow-wave sleep.”

However, it is still unclear if Alzheimer’s causes poor sleep or if poor sleep is a contributor to the development of the disease. Researchers hope their study gives more insight into the pathology of Alzheimer’s, improving prevention and treatment methods through early intervention.

Have you seen a link between Alzheimer’s and poor sleep? Share your sleep stories with us in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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