Study Finds Link Between Chronic Sleep Problems and Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine are conducting studies indicating that sleep problems in young people could be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe that there is a connection between the build-up of amyloid protein, found in Alzheimer’s patients, and a disruptive sleep-wake cycle in young adults.
According to the findings, scientists believe that constant change in sleep patterns and extensive sleep deprivation can increase the chances of developing amyloid plaque build-up. The results indicate that the relationship between lack of sleep and amyloid build-up is mutually destructive, as chronic sleep problems promote the build-up of amyloid and amyloid build-up disrupts sleep cycles.
The study is being conducted on lab mice that have been genetically altered to develop Alzheimer’s brain plaque as they age. According to David Holtzman, M.D., the head of Washington University’s Department of Medicine, “When the animals are young, there is no pathology in the brain, but as they get older they develop Alzheimer’s pathology in the brain, and at the same time they developed sleep-wake problems.”
The observations and results of these studies have reportedly motivated researchers to focus on the effects sleep deprivation could have on detecting Alzheimer’s in the early stages. Jee Hoon Roh, M.D. and Ph.D., neurologist and postdoctoral researcher in Holtzman’s laboratory, claims that early detection is currently the largest obstacle in treating Alzheimer’s disease; a focus on sleeping patterns, Rohn claims, could give doctors a better understanding of the disease and possible treatment options.
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