New study suggests that sleep disorders may predict cognitive decline
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50 to 70 million people in the United States suffer from sleep disorders, illnesses that are considered to be major public health issues, as they can trigger serious health problems, poor life quality, low productivity and consistent stress.
Moreover, new research shows that sleeplessness can cause Alzheimer’s disease, due to its negative interference with the “glymphatic system.”
“Previous evidence has shown that sleep may influence the development or progression of Alzheimer’s disease in various ways. For example, disrupted sleep or lack of sleep may lead to amyloid plaque buildup because the brain’s clearance system kicks into action during sleep. Our study looked not only for amyloid but for other biological markers in the spinal fluid as well,” co-author of the study, Barbara B. Bendlin, Ph.D. explains.
The study included 101 participants with high risk of developing the cognitive disease. The patients were asked to complete questionnaires and to provide biological spinal fluid samples. After final examination, including medication, education levels, anxiety, and BMI, the analysis found the biological markers of Alzheimer’s in people who reported less sleep: “signs of amyloid and brain cell damage and inflammation.”
Nevertheless, there was no correlation between the cognitive disease and obstructive sleep apnea and the study did not address causality.
Further research is needed to accurately describe the relation between the markers and Alzheimer’s, as “early intervention for people at risk of Alzheimer’s disease may prevent or delay the onset of the disease.”
The new research was published in Neurology journal.