Trouble sleeping may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers say 


New research published Monday in the journal “JAMA Neurology” is the latest to link disrupted sleep patterns with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that is projected to affect 14 million people by 2050, according to Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

>> Read more trending news 

It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

To examine the link between sleep and Alzheimer’s, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, tracked the sleep cycles of 189 adults with an average age 66 who had no signs of cognitive impairment. They also studied their brains for proteins and plaques related to the disease.

>> Related: Alzheimer’s disease fueled by gut bacteria, new study finds 

They found that in older people with no signs of cognitive impairment, those who had a messy sleep-wake cycle were more likely to have amyloid protein deposits in their brains.

“It wasn’t that the people in the study were sleep-deprived,” study author Erik S. Musiek, said in a news release. “But their sleep tended to be fragmented. Sleeping for eight hours at night is very different from getting eight hours of sleep in one-hour increments during daytime naps.”

Those amyloid protein deposits (or plaques) are considered sure signs of the disease. Amyloid levels typically decrease during sleep and increase when sleep is disrupted or when people don’t get enough good sleep, researchers said.

>> Related: Can extra-virgin olive oil preserve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s? 

In Alzheimer’s, the amyloid protein divides improperly to form a sticky beta amyloid, which is toxic to neurons in the brain and leads to the popular symptoms associated with the disease, including memory loss.

Alzheimer’s-associated memory loss can begin 15 or 20 years before symptoms of the disease are even noticed.

>> Related: How does Alzheimer's disease kill you? 

“At the very least, these disruptions in circadian rhythms may serve as a biomarker for preclinical disease,” senior author Yo-El Ju added. “We want to bring back these subjects in the future to learn more about whether their sleep and circadian rhythm problems lead to increased Alzheimer’s risk or whether the Alzheimer’s disease brain changes cause sleep/wake cycle and circadian problems.”

>> Related: U.S. Alzheimer’s deaths up 55 percent, CDC says

The new findings are part of growing evidence of the link between sleep problems and Alzheimer’s.

In July 2017, scientists found that after adjusting for age and family history of the disease, poor sleep and daytime sleepiness were linked to spinal fluid indicators of Alzheimer’s.

>> Related: Man says mother with Alzheimer's 'comes back to me when we sing'

Not everyone with sleep problems is destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease,” senior author of the 2017 study, Barbara B. Bendlin, told the New York Times. “We’re looking at groups of people, and over the whole group we find the association of poor sleep with the markers of Alzheimer’s. But when you look at individuals, not everyone shows that pattern.” 

Read the full study at jamanetwork.com.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Restaurant receives backlash for hanging pride flag on storefront
Restaurant receives backlash for hanging pride flag on storefront

A restaurant owner in Dorchester, Massachusetts, received a one-star review on Yelp for having a pride flag hanging outside his establishment. Born in Italy, Nino Barbalace's American dream was to obtain U.S. citizenship and open up his own restaurant.  Barbalace eventually achieved both dreams, and now calls Zia Gianna on Dorchester Avenue his...
Pizza delivery leads to discovery of woman’s decomposing body
Pizza delivery leads to discovery of woman’s decomposing body

Police in New Hampshire are investigating the death of an elderly woman whose body was discovered when the woman’s adult son had a pizza delivered to their home. The New Hampshire Union Leader reported that the woman, identified by neighbors as Florence Cotter, of Salem, was found dead around 3 p.m. Wednesday. Her son, Gary Cotter, had to be...
ESPN will not air national anthem before Monday Night Football
ESPN will not air national anthem before Monday Night Football

ESPN will not air the national anthem before Monday Night Football games, network officials said Friday.  >> Read more trending news  "We generally have not broadcasted the anthem and I don't think that will change this year,” network president Jimmy Pitaro told Axios. “Our plan going into this year is to not broadcast...
Aretha Franklin’s funeral will be four-day event
Aretha Franklin’s funeral will be four-day event

A day after the death of legendary singer Aretha Franklin, details are emerging about official plans to celebrate her life. The musician died at age 76 in her home in Detroit. She had been battling pancreatic cancer. >> Read more trending news  WDIV reported that the funeral for Franklin will be a four-day event. Her body will lie in...
Police arrest ‘Hellcat’ driver caught on Facebook driving nearly 200 mph
Police arrest ‘Hellcat’ driver caught on Facebook driving nearly 200 mph

A 22-year-old North Carolina driver has been charged with street racing and reckless driving after authorities say he reached speeds of 198 mph. William Jefferson was speeding on U.S. 1 near the Triangle Expressway in Wake County last month, WTVD reported. >> Read more trending news  According to the Highway Patrol, somebody sent...
More Stories