3-Jun-15 5:00 AM  CST

Poor Sleep Habits May Be Tied to an Increased Risk for Alzheimer's

According to a new study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley there may be even more reason to get a good night’s sleep. Bryce Mander a postdoctoral fellow and the researcher conducting the study, believes lack of sleep may be a missing link in the mystery surrounding Alzheimer’s disease.

Mander’s study used 26 participants between the ages of 70-79. Researchers began the study by first conducting baseline brain imaging to determine the amount of plaque buildup each participant had on their brain. An increased build up of beta amyloid plaque on the brain is believed to be responsible for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. After the imaging was complete, participants were asked to remember a pair of words prior to going to sleep and again on waking in the morning. The results of the study found that those who had the poorest sleep habits also had the highest amounts of beta amyloid plaque build up and thus also had the greatest issues with cognitive memory.

 Mander went onto state that while the study does not equivalently prove that the lack of deep sleep, particularly in old age, increases the risk for Alzheimer’s it does suggest that the lack of deep sleep is tied to our brain’s ability to retain long-term memories. Sleep after learning, Mander explained, is important in helping the brain retain memory for longer periods of time, and not so much just retaining the memory itself.  

Dr. Richard Osorio, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Centers for Brain Health, New York University, Langone Medical Center in New York City, explains that issues with sleep habits early in life have long been thought to have a connection to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease later in life. What researchers don’t know is whether poor sleep habits result in a build up beta amyloid plaque or if the build up of amyloid plaque build up results in poor sleep habits, and where does loss of cognitive memory come into play.

Insomnia and sleep apnea in the elderly have both been proven to increase cognitive decline, which in turn seems to increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the decline in cognitive abilities induces the onset of Alzheimer’s at an earlier age. While we may not fully understand the connection between sleep and the increased risk for Alzheimer’s one thing is certain, healthy sleep habits have a significant effect on our overall well-being.


Dotinga, R., (2015), “Alzheimer’s-Linked Brain Protein Tied to Poor Sleep in Study”, WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20150601/alzheimers-linked-brain-proteins-tied-to-poor-sleep-in-study, retrieved, 3 June 2015

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Sandra Andrews
(717) 360-1159
Source: Sandy Andrews  

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