-Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
The medical community has long understood the benefits of having a good night’s sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to erratic weight management, depression and it can weaken your nervous system. Now sleep deprivation has also been linked to an increased risk in developing Alzheimer’s.
During a recent study performed at the Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, researchers studied a group of mice had had been bred to develop dementia. They noticed that mice that had been given a hormone to promote wakefulness developed a 25% higher beta amyloid level than the control mice group that maintained a normal sleep pattern. Beta amyloid, a protein which increases production during hours of wakefulness, clumped together and produced layers of plaque in the brains of the sleep deprived mice. This is the same kind of plaque found on the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s. These plaques kill important brain neurons and can lead to memory loss.
It seems that the more we learn about Alzheimer’s and the more we learn about what causes it, the best tactic one can do to fight the onset of the terrible disease is to simply maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating right, exercising often and getting adequate sleep.