Researchers led by neurologist David Holtzman of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis speculated that lower levels of brain cell activity during deep sleep would produce less A-beta, tau and other proteins than other stages of sleep or wakefulness. In one sleep session, researchers monitored brain activity and when the person was entering slow-wave sleep, a tone was delivered through the headphones to prevent it. However there were no changes to levels of tau, another protein linked to Alzheimer's.
People with Alzheimer's generally have observable tangles of tau proteins, inflammation in the brain, damaged brain cells, and higher concentrations of beta-amyloid proteins, which make up a plaque associated with the disease. A week after those disrupted nights, researchers found higher levels of Tau, the tangled proteins also associated with Alzheimer's, in the volunteers' spinal fluid as well.
Yo-El Ju, assistant professor of neurology at Washington University, said: "The main concern is people who have chronic sleep problems".
"Also, when we looked at their home sleep, the worse their sleep, the more their tau increased", Ju said.
Still, since a lack of sleep has been tied to other health problems, this appears to be another good reason to get those zzz's at night.
In the short term, a bad night's sleep won't do much worse than leave you feeling groggy and grumpy.
The study doesn't prove whether or how disrupted sleep contributes to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Prolonged periods of poor sleep could increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, although quality, not quantity, is at the root of the issue, research has revealed. It shows that poor sleep leads to an increase in harmful compounds that can cause dementia.
Is there a connection between not sleeping through the night and a risk for Alzheimer's disease? "Our goal was to get them to just get out of slow-wave sleep, but not wake up", said Ju.
Turning and tossing all night indicates poor quality sleep and this may result in daytime drowsiness, thus there is the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, says a new study. "If someone suspects that they have sleep apnea, they should really seek evaluation and treatment".