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Shut eye fends off Alzheimer's


The amount of sleep a person gets may later affect their memory function and influence the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Disrupted sleep appears to be associated with the build-up of amyloid plaques, a hallmark marker of Alzheimer’s disease, in the brains of people without memory problems. Further research is needed to determine why this is happening and whether sleep changes may predict cognitive decline,” said study author Yo-El Ju, MD, University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

The researchers analyzed the sleep patterns of 100 patients between the ages of 45 and 80 who had not been diagnosed with any cognitive disability. Half of the participants had a family history of Alzheimer’s. Their sleep was recorded for two weeks and they were subsequently asked to fill out questionnaires.

They found that 25% of the patients showed signs of amyloid plaques which can be seen many years before Alzheimer’s develops. The mean amount of time patients slept was 8 hours but when interruptions were factored in, that sleep was reduced to 6.5 hours.

People without disrupted sleep were five times less likely to possess amyloid plaques. Better sleep, sleeping without tossing and turning, was also an indicator of reduced chances for Alzheimer’s.

“The association between disrupted sleep and amyloid plaques is intriguing, but the information from this study can’t determine a cause-effect relationship or the direction of this relationship. We need longer-term studies, following individuals’ sleep over years, to determine whether brain changes in early Alzheimer’s disease lead to changes in sleep,” said Ju.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, American Academy of Neurology

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