Lack of sleep is linked to Alzheimer's disease

Man looking confused

GETTYNew research It could lead to new drugs for the disease

If a person is unable to sleep properly, this might be a warning sign of developing Alzheimer's disease, a new study claims.

It is a verified fact that Alzheimer patients have issues with sleep.

Those who suffer from sleep problems have markers of the disease in their spinal fluid, which is present in the spine and brain, according to new research.

It may not be long before we can add Alzheimer's and other types of dementia to that list.

"Drugs that could clear away clumps of protein in the brain are a key goal for researchers, but to directly affect these proteins, molecules that make up a drug need to latch on and bind to their surface", explains the head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, Rosa Sancho.

Screening middle-aged adults for levels of amyloid protein in the organ could halt the irreversible damage, a study suggests. Without sufficient time to self-clean, brain toxins that may lead to Alzheimer's disease have time to build up.

Participants who had higher levels of the protein lost their memory quicker than those who lost it through ageing, scientists found. Such buildup can be harmful to the brain and cognition. However, senior author Barbara B. Bendlin noted that not everyone with sleeping problems is at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

'To delay or prevent dementia due to Alzheimer disease, it is critical to identify modifiable risk factors'.

Those biological markers included signs of the proteins amyloid and tau and brain cell damage and inflammation.

Scientists have come up with the most detailed images ever of the tau protein that aggregates in the brain of patients with Alzheimer's disease, leading to the death of brain cells.

How was the study conducted?

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This is because they had either a parent with the disease or being a carrier of a gene that increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease called apolipoprotein E (APOE).

For example, there was no link between biological markers for Alzheimer's and obstructive sleep apnoea.

What did the researchers find?

. The findings of the study conducted in the USA shows that people who have worse sleep qualities, more sleeping problems and daytime sleepiness, are indicating towards Alzheimer's disease as compared to those who don't face sleep problems. Tau forms filaments inside nerve cells and amyloid-beta forms filaments outside cells. But one third of people with dementia have a disease other than Alzheimer's, so studying the shape of tau in other forms of dementia will be important to help discover drugs for those conditions. "In the deepest stage of sleep, the brain cleans itself out of plaque and other toxic materials that trigger Alzheimer's disease. While it appears that good quality sleep can help to keep the brain healthy, the exact relationship between sleep and Alzheimer's risk is still unclear".

Bendlin said it's important to identify modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer's because delaying Alzheimer's disease in people by as little as five years could reduce the number of cases in the next 30 years by almost 6 million and save $367 billion in health care costs.

'There are already many effective ways to improve sleep.

One thing that could have thrown the findings off is that the participants reported their own sleep problems.

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