Lack of Sleep Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's Disease pic
Alzheimer’s Disease
Image: wreg.com

As the second-generation head of Salerno Medical Associates in New Jersey, Dr. Alexander Salerno works to improve health outcomes for patients of all ages. Dr. Alexander Salerno stands out as founder of the Community Health Outreach Program (CHOP), formerly known as the Senior Health Outreach Program (SHOP), which brings integrated medical and behavioral care to patients in urban neighborhoods.

According to researchers at Oregon Health and Science University, insufficient sleep may significantly contribute to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The link between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease has been evident for some time, as many individuals with the illness struggle with sleep disorders as well. Past speculation suggested that the disease caused damage in the areas of the brain that regulate sleep, but researchers have found that the actual cause may instead lie in the ability of sleep to optimize brain functions.

In 2009, a study at Washington University in St. Louis revealed that beta-amyloid plaques, which build up in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, grow more rapidly in mice who are deprived of sleep. Researchers went on expand on these findings and analyze why sleep deprivation correlates with plaque buildup. They found that in deep sleep, the cerebrospinal fluid circulates through the brain and clears out toxins, including those that form plaques. The hope is to test this hypothesis in human trials and determine whether there is a causal link between a lack of deep sleep and the premature buildup of Alzheimer’s disease-inducing amyloid plaques.

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