Healthy Living

Sleep Apnea and Dementia: New Link Discovered

Sleep and Alzheimer's Plaques

A research study in both mice and humans signify that problematic sleep patterns lead to higher amounts of soluble beta amyloid. This is the protein that shapes the sticky plaques that kill our brain cells, affecting the way we process information. Putting amyloid in our brain tissue is the very first preclinical stage of Alzheimer's disease. This occurs before any clear signs of dementia appear. Some studies in cognitively normal individuals and in mice have also revealed a correlation between the development of amyloid plaques and chronic sleep disruption. The study done in mice was interesting. It essentially showed that those mice that slept well have lessened their levels of beta amyloid. Thus, it effectively cleared the toxin from their brains.

Another study in Neurology looked at the connection between our sleep quality and our levels of several proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid of 101 cognitively healthy adults. The adults have an average age of 63. All of them had known risk factors for Alzheimer's, such as evidence of the APOE gene or family history. These pieces of evidence are known to result in a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s. The quality of their sleep was evaluated on a standard scale. They’ve also measured their drowsiness during the day as well as their naps.

According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) happens when your airway repetitively becomes blocked in spite of your efforts to breathe.