Sleep and Alzheimer’s
February 16, 2012 by staff
Sleep and Alzheimer’s, Disturbed sleep is associated with preclinical signs of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers found. In a small cohort study in cognitively normal people, frequent awakenings and a habit of lying awake were linked to higher levels of markers of the brain plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Yo-El Ju, MD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues.
The full study is slated for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in New Orleans in April, but some of the data were released early.
Ju and colleagues cautioned that it’s not clear if there’s a cause-and-effect relationship or, if there is, which way it runs. “Further research is needed to determine why this is happening and whether sleep changes may predict cognitive decline,” Ju said in a statement.
Alzheimer’s disease begins long before there any symptoms, the researchers noted, but signs of the beta-amyloid plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients can be detected in some cognitively normal people.
There is also evidence from animal studies that sleep disruption causes a build-up in those beta-amyloid markers, they said.
To investigate the link in humans, they turned to the Adult Children Study, a cohort of which half the members have a family history of Alzheimer’s. For thisanlysis, 100 participants, ages 45 to 80, were given standardized assessments and shown to be cognitively normal.
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