Sleep and Alzheimer’s – Are They Related?

Sleep and Alzheimer’s – Are They Related?

Scientific research has indicated that there may be a link between sleep disorders and the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. In people that are healthy in other ways, but who have a sleep disorder, a biological marker has been identified that could show this relationship. There is are proteins found in the spinal fluid that develop into plaque which appears in patients with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease. This protein is also found in people who have self identified as having sleep disorders or who identify as being excessively tired during the day.

This research could significantly affect the future of treatment for those with Alzheimer’s Disease, or for those who may develop it. This type of information could delay the disease in over six million people, and could save over 300 billion dollars.

It is very important to note that not all respondents who had self identified issues sleeping also had the protein markers. In other words, sleeping disorders do not always indicate future development of Alzheimer’s. For example, people who have issues sleeping or who are excessively tired because of sleep apnea may not have the marker that indicates possible development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Bendlin, who assisted with this study indicates that this information is not definite, but that people who are having trouble sleeping may greatly decrease their risk of developing Alzheimer’s by working to improve their sleep habits.

Key Points:

  • 1Dr. Barbara B. Bendlin, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison was the lead researcher on a study recently published in the journal Neurology.
  • 2The July issue detailed a study, showing that insufficient sleep may lead to amyloid plaque buildup.
  • 3Such plaque can only be cleared out by sleep and it’s inclusion in imaging is often linked to Alzheimer’s.

Researchers identified a connection between biological markers for Alzheimer’s and sleep disorders. This link was found in the spinal fluid.

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