New research co-authored by Dr. Barbara Bendlin from the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that poor sleep patterns increase the chances of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
The researchers gathered samples of spinal fluid from 101 patients with a family history of Alzheimer’s or who had certain genes linked to the condition. Those who reported poor quality of sleep seem to present more biological markers characteristic of Alzheimer than those with regular sleep patterns.
Poor Sleep Patterns Might Lead to the Development of Brain Plaque and Alzheimer?
During the study, researchers looked for tangles. These can be formed into the nerve cells due to a damaged protein called “tau”. Tau tangles become toxic for the nervous system as they disrupt the structure of the cells. Apart from the beta-amyloid plaque which was linked to the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the tau tangles might be a step beyond.
Bendlin stated that, according to prior evidence, a disrupted sleep pattern might lead to the development of the amyloid plaque. However, the study tested just how much lack of or poor sleep can affect the nerve cells. Bendlin further stated that not all of the patients with poor sleeping patterns had abnormal markers in their spinal fluid. But the study does add to the prior evidence concerning the onset of the disease.
If the effects of poor sleep can be directly linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, the opportunity for intervention might be available sooner. Thus, the number of cases might also be reduced. Bendlin added:
“If it turns out to be the case that an intervention which improves sleep also results in less amyloid being deposited in the brain, that would provide strong support for implementing interventions before people start to show cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”
The lead suggests that more research should be conducted. This could help pinpoint the link between sleeping patterns and the biomarkers. Currently, it seems that the two might well influence each other.
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