17 May Poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation will increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research is beginning to reveal links between the quality of an individual’s sleep and their risk of AD. The cognitive decline and neurodegeneration demonstrated by AD patients is often attributed to the aggregation of protein plaques in the brain known as beta-amyloid. Diagnostic sleep investigations have demonstrated that disruptions to slow-wave sleep and overall reductions in sleep quality contribute to the aggregation of beta-amyloid plaques possibly advancing the degeneration of neuronal tissue and accelerating AD onset.
The dangers of compromised sleep quality or extended periods of wakefulness directly inhibit brain tissue restoration and consolidation of memory. These dangers are exacerbated during times when it becomes difficult to get to sleep, or when slow-wave sleep is fragmented from disturbances, both of which promote the formation of these amyloid plaques. Protracted wakefulness when the body and brain should be at rest prevents the clearance of beta-amyloid in the brain and therefore increases the likelihood of forming those nasty protein plaques.
Important things to consider here is finding ways that we can improve the quality of our sleep. This means:
- Minimising disturbances throughout the night to allow for appropriate amounts of slow-wave sleep.
- Getting into a good pre-sleep routine to prepare the body for sleep.
- Remove electronic devices from the bedroom and avoid usage 15-30 minutes prior to bed.
- Make lists to prevent an active mind whilst trying to go to sleep.
Since there is no known cure for AD, reducing our risk through simple lifestyle changes like improving sleep quality could prove to pay-off bigtime in the future.
Brown, B. M., Rainey-Smith, S. R., Bucks, R. S., Weinborn, M. N., & Martins, R. (2016). Exploring the bi-directional relationship between sleep and beta-amyloid. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 29(6), 397-401.
Ju, Y., Ooms, S., Sutphen, C., Macauley, S., Zangrilli, M., Jerome, G., Holtzman, D. (2017). Slow wave sleep disruption increases cerebrospinal fluid amyloid-β levels. Brain, 140(8), 2104-2111.
Yulug, B., Hanoglu, L., & Kilic, E. (2017). Does sleep disturbance affect the amyloid clearance mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease? Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 71(10), 673-677.