Sleep Problems Linked to Early Sign of Alzheimer’s Disease

Poor Sleep Equals Alzheimer’s disease

A new study suggests a significant link between poor sleep and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

The study headed by Barbara B. Bendlin, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, asserted they found a link between sleep disturbances and biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease found in the spinal fluid.

According to Bendlin, people who reported worse sleep quality, more sleep problems and daytime sleepiness had more biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease in their spinal fluid than people who did not have sleep problems. Those biological markers included signs of amyloid, tau and brain cell damage and inflammation.

Amyloid is a protein that contributes to the development of plaques in the brain. Tau is a protein that forms into tangles. These plaques and tangles are found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was published in the July 5, 2017, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The Study and Key Results

In a mission to probe the impact of biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease in spinal fluid, the researchers invited 101 people as respondents of the study. The respondents had an average age of 63 with normal thinking and memory skills but who were considered at risk of developing Alzheimer’s. They also provided spinal fluid samples that were tested for biological markers of Alzheimer’s disease.

Here are the results!

The results showed people with sleep problems tend to have sustained biological markers for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The results remained the same when researchers adjusted for other factors such as use of medications for sleep problems, amount of education, depression symptoms or body mass index.

While relationships were evident when looking at everyone as a group, not everyone with sleep problems has abnormalities in their spinal fluid. For example, there was no link between biological markers in the spinal fluid and obstructive sleep apnea.

One limitation of the study was that sleep problems were self-reported.

An old woman with dementia - alzheimers.
An old woman with dementia – alzheimers.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term of memory loss that affects a majority of old people who are 65 and older. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It has no cure but there are treatments that tentatively slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.