The concern over Alzheimer’s disease has been growing. Over 40 million people are currently diagnosed with the disease. It attacks brain cells, leading to dementia, along with memory and cognitive issues. The medical community continues looking for possible ways to treat or slow the spread of the disease.
There have been numerous studies on the disease over the years. This has led to some promising research and developments. One theory that scientists have been exploring is the possibility that a lack of sleep could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
A new study has found a connection between not getting enough sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. If you didn’t already prioritize getting enough sleep, you will after reading this.
Scientists Look At The Impact Of Poor Sleep
Scientists from the University of California in Berkeley began studying the effects that a lack of sleep can have on memory. As a part of this study, researchers were specifically looking at the connection between a sleep deficit and an increased occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers discovered that excessive deposits of a beta-amyloid could be a major part of how Alzheimer’s disease progresses. This toxic protein has been linked to poor sleep. While scientists believed that beta-amyloid and a lack of sleep are connected, they needed to verify their hypothesis through proper research.
In the past, researchers have investigated this issue by studying animal subjects. This latest study was one of the first to evaluate the impact of beta-amyloid deposits on human subjects. This research is part of a growing interest in the inter-connectedness of sleep, beta-amyloid deposits, memory, and Alzheimer’s disease.
For this study, researchers were able to use PET scans to measure the presence of beta-amyloid deposits in the brain. MRI scans were used to measure brain function during memory tests. EEG machines were used to measure brain waves during sleep.
Combining these tests and scans, researchers could better evaluate their theory that a lack of sleep is a major contributor to Alzheimer’s disease.
Instead of studying adults that already have Alzheimer’s disease, scientists chose to study adults that had no signs of dementia or any other neurodegenerative disorders. The 26 seniors, between the ages of 65 and 81, also had no sleep problems or psychiatric disorders.
The participants were told to memorize 120 pairs of words. They were then tested on how well they remembered the pairs. The group then slept for eight hours, while their brain waves were measured using EEG scans. In the morning, MRI scans were used as they recited the word pairs that they could still remember.
Once the study was concluded, researchers noted that the participants with the highest measurements of beta-amyloid were the ones that received poor sleep. They also performed worst on the memory test.
A Vicious Cycle That Could Fuel Alzheimer’s Disease
The more beta-amyloids in your brain, the less deep sleep you are able to get. This affects memory and your ability to get rid of the beta-amyloids. Scientists pointed out that this is a vicious cycle and admit that they do not know which occurs the first—the lack of sleep or the presence of the bad protein.
Start Getting Better Rest At Night
Scientists understand that you need sleep to clear the bad proteins from your brain. When you are unable to do so, you may experience difficulty with concentration, memory, and clarity. These can all contribute to the onset of dementia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Everyone should make an effort to get a good night’s rest. It is easy to get tied up with your daily commitments at work and home. If you tend to have trouble getting to sleep, try to limit your consumption of caffeine and avoid eating anything several hours before bedtime.
Setting a regular sleep schedule can also help to increase the quality of your sleep. Figure out what time you need to get up each morning, to have enough time to get ready for work. Subtract eight hours from this time to set your bedtime.
For example, if you need to get up at 5 AM, then lay down by 9 PM. If it takes you up to an hour to fall asleep, you should still manage to get seven hours of rest. Within a couple of weeks, you should find that your sleep improves.
Researchers have suspected that a lack of sleep could be connected to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This latest study seems to confirm these beliefs. Whenever a study is able to shed some additional light on a subject, scientists can focus their research and make breakthroughs. Hopefully, this will be the case with this study.