Is There a Link Between Sleep Quality and Alzheimer’s Disease?

January 2, 2015 in Our News & Bulletins by Ideal Home Care

Past studies have linked poor sleep to cognitive impairment as we age. A recent study finds that those who suffer with sleep problems are more likely to have high levels of beta-amyloid in their brains. Beta-amyloids are a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease and the research shows that sleep problems may contribute to its development.


The participants in the study ranged from age 53 to 91 with an average age of 76. Researchers examined the sleep habits of the participants whose duration of sleep varied from more than seven hours each night to no more than five hours. Positron emission tomographies, or PET scans, were used to measure the beta-amyloid in their brains. The results show that shorter sleep duration and lower quality sleep were both associated with higher levels of the Alzheimer’s biomarker.


Lead author Adam Spira of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explains that additional studies with objective sleep measures are needed to determine whether sleep disturbance causes or accelerates Alzheimer disease. However Spira says, “These findings are important in part because sleep disturbances can be treated. 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.”


Source: Spira A, Gamaldo A, An Y, et al. Self-reported sleep and β-amyloid deposition in community-dwelling older adults. JAMA Neurology, 2013; 70 (12):1537-1543.

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