I am one of those people who can lay in bed for hours unable to sleep for a significant amount of time every now and then. So I’m really concerned to see new data from sleep studies showing the beginnings of a correlation between poor sleeping patterns and the onset of Alzheimer’s later in life.
Actually the official result involves preclinical Alzheimer’s, which are changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s. In cases where subjects woke up for than 5 times during the average hour of sleep during the night, those individuals were more likely to have preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. What remains to be understood is which comes first; does the preclinical Alzeimer’s lead to poor sleep patterns or is it the poor sleep that causes the Alzheimer’s?
These preliminary results came from studying a group of 100 people, using a combination of sleep diaries, questionnaires, spinal fluid tests, and brain scans. Researchers were particularly trying to find amyloid plaque deposits in the brain, which are believed to appear 10 to 15 years before Alzheimer’s symptoms appear.
Out of all the participants, those that spent less than 85% of their time in bed sleeping, were the most likely to show signs of degenerative condition. Though it is normal to wake up a several times during the course of a night’s sleep, there seems to be a point where some people are waking up and struggle to get or stay asleep more than average. The possibility of a connection between Alzheimer’s and such bad sleeping patterns is looking more and more real, even if the nature of the relationship is still not fully understood.
The study will be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in New Orleans.
Source: CBS News
Photo: MAry Lane / flickr