Alzheimer’s Study: Sleep Now or Forever Risk Losing Your Memory

Alzheimer's

A study on Alzheimer’s disease has revealed that people who get regular, sound sleep for at least eight hours a day, are at a decreased risk of suffering from it and losing their memory, which is one of the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The study directly relates lack of sleep to increased chances of suffering from the disease. Alzheimer’s disease may not be on everyone’s list of top concerns that they are worried about due to increased stress, working hours, and other insecurities. However, medical specialists stress that it should be an important concern for every individual. Furthermore, educating individuals and their family members about the deadly disease is crucial for the sufferer’s quality of life.

While the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is still not completely known, scientists learn more about the irreversible disease every day. As per the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alzheimer’s disease has been categorized as a form of dementia. The symptoms and effects of this disease start out with limited memory loss, causing a person to lack the ability to hold a conversation, and react to things going on around him or her. The progressive disease involves the sections of brain that controls memory, thought and language, and can severely hinder a person’s daily capabilities.

Alzheimer'sWith Alzheimer’s disease being in the top 10 list of leading causes of death in the U.S., it is important to discuss the concerns like behavioral changes, memory loss or thinking skills with a health-care provider. In 2013, an estimated five million Americans were living with the ailment. Over the next three and a half decades, Alzheimer’s disease is expected to affect nearly 14 million people living in the U.S.

A recent study, published in the medical journal Nature Neuroscience, suggests that poor sleep could be a contributing factor in the buildup of brain plaque, which progresses Alzheimer’s disease. According to doctors studying the disease, one common condition found in their patients is lack of sleep. Finding out if the disease causes disrupted sleep, or if the disease is caused by unhealthy sleeping habits, is what the doctors are working towards. The study has revealed that people who get regular, sound sleep for at least eight hours a day, are at a decreased risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and losing their memory, which is one of its effects.

Alzheimer'sA research team at the University of California, California Pacific Medical Center and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health for this study. The team studied 26 intellectually stable senior citizens between the age group of 65 to 81, and found increases levels of beta-amyloid, the protein associated with plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease. They were later able to link beta-amyloid to the deep sleep patterns that were disrupted the most. More importantly, the researchers performed 120 basic paired-word memory tests on the volunteers, before they went to sleep and again when they woke up, in which the first word was typical and the second, nonsensical. In both instances, the increased level of beta-amyloid and disturbed sleep were present when the volunteers performed worse.

Scientists and many individuals who are familiar with the findings of this research are optimistic about the results. This is because poor sleep could be treatable through behavioral therapy, exercise and potentially electrical stimulation that boosts brain waves while a person sleeps, which in turn, increases short-term memory as per previous tests. The study has revealed that people who get regular, sound sleep for at least eight hours a day, are at a decreased risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and losing their memory.

By Ankur Sinha

Sources:
Time-Go to Sleep: It May Be the Best Way to Avoid Getting Alzheimer’s
CDC-Alzheimer’s Disease
NHS-Poor sleep quality linked to Alzheimer’s disease

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Photo (2) courtesy of Dreaming of Stars’ Flickr Page-Creative Commons License
Photo (3) courtesy of Bloco’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License

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