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One night of bad sleep increases Alzheimer's risk
July 22 2017, 10:38 | Irvin Gilbert
A bad night's sleep could be doing you more damage
Scientists found an increase in amyloid beta and tau, the two proteins believed to cause the disease, after disrupting the sleep of volunteers. "We found that the worse the sleep quality in the preceding week, the higher the tau". One night of disrupted sleep increased amyloid beta, CBS News reported. "We think that not getting good sleep chronically over the years would increase the risk of the amyloid and tau clumping up and causing Alzheimer's disease".
In both experiments, participants were asked to complete a sleep diary at home over a period between five days and two weeks, during which they also wore sensors to track their movements during sleep. The sounds usually didn't wake the people up but kept them from getting any slow-wave sleep. Half slept with headphones on, while the other half of the group were sent a series of beeps that gradually got louder and forced the participants from a deep sleep into a shallower sleep. And once a person has the disease, disruptions in the brain may make it hard to sleep.
One limitation of the study was that sleep problems were self-reported.
But data collected by the participants at home revealed an effect.
For the study, researchers recruited 101 people with an average age of 63 who had normal thinking and memory skills but who were considered at risk of developing Alzheimer's, either having a parent with the disease or being a carrier of a gene that increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease called apolipoprotein E or APOE.
Quality sleep may help protect your brain against dementia, a recent study suggests. The concern is for chronic sleep deprivation.
On the bright side, the researchers said these short-term stints of bad sleep aren't likely to do much long-term damage, because a good night's sleep probably restores amyloid beta and tau levels.
He said more research needs to be done to be sure. "It may be possible that early intervention for people at risk of Alzheimer's disease may prevent or delay the onset of the disease".
Doug Brown, director of research at Alzheimer's Society, agreed. Both plaques and tangles are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.