Sleep and Alzheimer’s disease
An article published in the Journal of Neurophysiology looked at the factors that link sleep disturbances and Alzheimer’s disease. Previous research has focused on 2 proteins, amyloid beta and tau (amyloid beta is associated with learning and the ability of the brain to change and adapt, tau helps to regulate signaling between neuronal cells). Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease have been found to have a build up of both amyloid beta and tau tangles in the brain.
Previous studies have found that individuals who experienced just 1 nights sleep deprivation had up to 30% higher levels of amyloid beta and up to 50% higher levels of tau. Tau was found in the cerebrospinal fluid, a marker of injury to the nerve cells.
The article states that ‘increased production of amyloid beta and tau along with reduced elimination of these proteins is the primary contributing factor for Alzheimer’s disease, while quality sleep seems to be able to help the body clear excess proteins.’ The researchers are continuing to study the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease and if sleep disruption aggravates symptoms and disease progression or if sleep disruption actually initiates ‘the cascade of Alzheimer’s development.’