Poor Sleep Tied to Alzheimer’s-like Brain Changes

A new study published in JAMA Neurology suggests that older adults who don’t sleep well have more brain beta-amyloid plaques, which can be indicators of Alzheimer’s disease.

The finding doesn’t prove that not getting enough sleep causes the build-up of beta-amyloid plaques and leads to dementia rather than the other way around. But, the study’s lead author, Adam Spira from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said, “It’s exciting that our findings … may point to sleep disturbance as something that can be a modifiable risk factor that can be leveraged to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”

“We’ve known for a long time that people with Alzheimer’s disease have really disturbed sleep patterns,” Spira told Reuters Health. “People have wondered, well, is it possible that poor sleep is actually leading to cognitive decline?” In the new study, “We were able to look under the hood and see what’s going on in the brain,” he said.

Read the full Reuters Health article here.

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