A link between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer’s?
Does chronic sleep deprivation increase a person’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease?
In a study published in a recent edition of JAMA Neurology, researchers from the Netherlands found a correlation between lack of sleep and disruption of the body’s natural, rhythmic levels of a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. However, the study included only 26 middle-aged men. Dr. Franco Campanella, a neurologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center, says more investigation involving a larger study is needed.
“The study indicates that a night of good sleep reduces the amount of the protein, beta-amyloid, in the cerebral spinal fluid of healthy individuals. We already know that a relationship exists between beta-amyloid and Alzheimer’s, but whether beta-amyloid is a cause of the disease or simply a by-product is still unknown,” Dr. Campanella says, who is a part of Christ Medical Center’s Neurosciences Institute.
Specifically, the research team determined that those who had a night of unrestricted sleep experienced a 6 percent decline in levels of beta-amyloid 42 protein in their cerebral spinal fluid. This decrease was “counteracted” in study participants who were sleep-deprived.
“We don’t know whether or not simply cleansing the body of this beta-amyloid protein will stop development of Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Campanella says. “However, we can say that a good night’s sleep is aligned with our circadian rhythm and gives us that refreshing feeling when we awake.
“What’s most significant is that the study has determined, for the first time in humans, an association between the beta-amyloid protein and the amount of sleep we get. That finding provides the basis for future investigation,” Dr. Campanella adds.
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