People who have trouble sleeping may be at greater risk for a variety of health problems, including being overweight and developing diabetes, heart disease or depression. Now add to the list memory problems.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that participants who had disrupted sleep — waking up repeatedly during the night — were more likely to show Alzheimer’s disease-related signs than sound sleepers. The study is ongoing, so researcher’s are not sure whether the poor sleep triggered the development of amyloid deposits, Alzheimer’s indicators, or if the amyloid deposits build in the brain and cause poor sleep.
Study leaders speculate that deep sleep slows the production of amyloid, a nerve damaging protein, while poor sleepers, who are less likely to enter deep sleep, tend to accumulate these deposits.
In any case, the experiment is a promising look into how your brain’s sleep-wake cycle, in addition to risk factors like family history, may impact the Alzheimer’s process. The hope is that by modifying sleep patterns, high risk patients may be able to lower their risk of progression from mild to advanced stages of degenerative memory loss.
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Source: HealthLand, “Can’t Sleep? It May Be Affecting Your Memory”