As reported in the Washington Post, poor sleep quality may impact Alzheimer’s disease onset and progression. This is according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who examined the association between sleep variables and a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.
Published in the October issue of JAMA Neurology “Self-reported Sleep and β-Amyloid Deposition in Community-Dwelling Older Adults“, the researchers found that reports of shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with a greater β-Amyloid burden, a hallmark of the disease.
Previous studies had linked disturbed sleep to cognitive impairment in older people. The new findings suggest that sleep problems may contribute to its development.
Post reporters point out that it is not yet known whether amyloid plaque causes Alzheimer’s, or is a byproduct of it. According to the Post, a team led by Adam Spira of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined sleep as reported by research participants.
Their duration of sleep ranged from more than seven hours a night to no more than five hours. Beta-amyloid in their brains was measured by positron emission tomography, or PET scans.
The results: Shorter sleep duration and lower sleep quality were both associated with greater beta-amyloid buildup. “These findings are important in part because sleep disturbances can be treated in older people,” Spira says. “To the degree that poor sleep promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for poor sleep or efforts to maintain healthy sleep patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”