Poor Night Sleep May Increase Alzheimer's Risk: How To Get Better Sleep According To Scientists

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Long periods of poor sleep can boost levels of proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers of a new study have revealed.

Sleep And Alzheimer’s Disease

In the study published in the journal Brain, Yo-El Ju, from the Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues found evidence suggesting that quality sleep is crucial for helping the body clear away amyloid and tau.

The compounds are believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic deprivation of quality sleep over long periods can raise the likelihood of amyloid and tau building up and cause the neurological disease.

“Slow wave activity disruption increases amyloid-β levels acutely, and poorer sleep quality over several days increases tau. These effects are specific to neuronally-derived proteins, which suggests they are likely driven by changes in neuronal activity during disrupted sleep,” the researchers wrote in their study.

The researchers said that while one bad night should not be a cause for worry, they stressed the importance of working to get better sleep at night. Besides Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, there are other health problems attributed to poor quality sleep.

A study published in May suggests that lack of sleep can cause the brain to cannibalize itself. Sleep problems are also tied to increased risk for diabetes in men, weight gain, and increased crash risk for drivers.

“We should all be working to sleep at the better end of our abilities, because it does seem to make a difference,” said Ju.

Getting Better Sleep

Scientific studies offer hints on how to get better sleep at night. A study published in the journal Sleep Science and Practice on Monday, July 10, showed that having a purpose in life is linked to less sleep disturbance.

Researchers found that people who felt that their lives have purpose tend to have better quality sleep compared with those who did not. They are also less likely to suffer from sleep apnea.

Experts frown on using sleeping pills to get sleep but researchers have suggested a safe and better alternative to sleep medications: exercise.

“There are more solid studies recently that looked at people clinically diagnosed with insomnia disorder, rather than self-described poor sleepers,” said Christopher Kline, from the University of Pittsburgh. “The results show exercise improves both self-reported and objective measures of sleep quality, such as what’s measured in a clinical sleep lab.”

Sleep experts also say that sticking to a sleep schedule, healthy diet, having a restful environment, and limiting daytime naps can boost a person’s chances of getting better sleep at night.