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Sleep and Alzheimers onset

01-05-2013

Alzheimer’s is a disease that is still shrouded in mystery. So little is understood about what causes it and what triggers onset. That said, some recent research has found that there could be a connection between less sleep and Alzheimer’s onset.

To be specific, what the study found was that sleep is disrupted in people who likely have early Alzheimer's disease but have not yet experienced memory loss or the other cognitive problems characteristic of full-blown disease. In other words, disrupted sleep could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s or, conversely, disrupted sleep may trigger Alzheimer’s.

Tests with mice show that both may be true, that the brain plaques associated with the disease cause sleep problems and that sleep problems may lead to brain plaques.

Scientists are hopeful that this discovery may provide an easily detectable sign of Alzheimer's pathology in an area that has been difficult to this point. Watching the sleep patterns of people being treated at early stages of Alzheimer’s may be the best way to discover whether the treatments are working or not, providing a non-invasive means of ascertaining new treatments’ viability.

While it is early days, discovering a two way link, that seep disruption can trigger Alzheimer’s and that Alzheimer’s can cause sleep disruption, provides researchers with a powerful set of cognitive tools.


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