Lack of proper sleep puts you at greater risk of Alzheimer's disease

Persistent lack of proper sleep may contribute to a slowing down of cognitive powers, says a new study. This is because when the brain is awake, it produces more of the protein amyloid beta, which is linked to Alzheimer's disease.

Poor sleep leads to rise in Alzheimer's proteins

The levels of the protein rise, and this sets off a sequence of changes to the brain that can end with dementia.

For the research, scientists studied eight people aged between 30- 60 years with no sleep or cognitive problems. They were put through three situations. One, having a normal night's sleep without any sleep assistance like pills. Second, staying up all night and the third, sleeping after treatment with sodium oxybate, a prescription medication for sleep disorders.

Sodium oxybate increases slow-wave sleep, which is the deep, dreamless phase of sleep that people need to wake up feeling refreshed.

Studying the same people under different conditions provides the statistical power to detect changes in amyloid beta levels.

Amyloid beta levels in sleep-deprived people were 25 to 30% higher than in those who had slept the night through. In fact after a sleepless night, amyloid beta levels were on par with the levels seen in people genetically predisposed to develop Alzheimer's at a young age.

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