Just one night of poor sleep can boost Alzheimer's proteins

Trouble Sleeping Linked to Alzheimer's

And poor-quality sleep over time was associated with higher levels of tau, a different Alzheimer's-associated protein, in the cerebrospinal fluid, Dr. Yo-El Ju of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and colleagues found.

Another study published July 10 in the journal Brain involved 17 healthy volunteers (men and women between 35 and 65 years of age).

Amyloid is a protein that can fold and form into plaques in the brain, while another protein, Tau, forms into tangles. "We found that the worse the sleep quality in the preceding week, the higher the tau".

"All we can really say is that bad sleep increases levels of some proteins that are associated with Alzheimer's disease".

Researchers said a couple of nights of bad sleep aren't harmful but chronic sleep problems can be a problem.

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.

"Because brain cells release amyloid beta during activity, we think if the brain cells can't rest the way they're supposed to and get that deep sleep, they produce a relative excess of amyloid", Ju said.

Not getting enough sleep doesn't feel good - and could have some scary long-term consequences. People in the study who slept poorly for a week also had more of a protein called tau in their spinal fluid than they did when well rested. This was dark, soundproof, and climate-controlled, ensuring a sound night's sleep, with electrodes monitoring their brain waves.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison looked at the spinal fluid of 101 people with an average age of 63, and found that those who reported poor sleep quality had, on average, more markers of Alzheimer's disease - including amyloid and tau build-ups, brain-cell damage and inflammation.

“We dont know what the chicken or egg cause is here, it may very well be that sleeping longer will help us to prevent us from developing or slow down the process of Alzheimers disease but we certainly dont have the definitive answer as yet, ” said Dr. Rao. Still, it wasn't clear why not getting enough shut-eye promotes Alzheimer's disease.

The other half slept free of any interruption, and the next morning all participants underwent a spinal tap to analyse the amyloid beta and tau in their brain and spinal fluid.

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