Chronic Lack of Sleep May Raise Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, Study Suggests

Chronic Lack of Sleep May Raise Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, Study Suggests
A poor night’s sleep may increase the levels of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers, noting that their findings may be especially important for people with chronic sleep disorders. The study by scientists at Stanford University, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, “Slow wave sleep disruption increases cerebrospinal fluid amyloid-β levels,” appeared in the journal Brain. "We showed that poor sleep is associated with higher levels of two Alzheimer's-associated proteins," Dr. David M. Holtzman and the study's senior researcher, said in a news release. "We think that perhaps chronic poor sleep during middle age may increase the risk of Alzheimer's later in life." Previous studies had shown that lack of sleep increases the production of beta-amyloid, suggesting that patients who suffer chronic sleep deprivation may be at high risk of Alzheimer's. However, researchers did not know exactly what aspect of sleep is associated with beta-amyloid levels and other disease biomarkers. To find out, the study enrolled 17 healthy adults (aged 35 to 65 years) with no sleep or cognitive disorders. Researchers analyzed brain wave activity during a polysomnogram, which uses a wrist monitor to record a person’s sleep. After five or more successive nights wearing the monitor, participants were invited to spend a night in a sleep room designed for the study. Half of them, however, were assigned to have their sleep disturbed while a mo
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