Study: Lack of Sleep May Boost Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

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If you don’t get enough sleep, you run a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, anxiety, and depression.

Now lack of sleep is being tied to Alzheimer’s disease, too.

Losing just one night of sleep led to an immediate increase in beta-amyloid, a protein in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Beta amyloid forms the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patient. It harms communication between neurons.

A separate study also recently found that sleep deprivation impacts the beta-amyloid burden in regions of the brain implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. This situation also resulted in worse moods, too.

Sadly, only 60% of Latinos get recommended hours of sleep, compared to 67% of whites.

“This research provides new insight about the potentially harmful effects of a lack of sleep on the brain and has implications for better characterizing the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. George F. Koob of NIAAA.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Latinos

Latino man elderly lack of sleep tired alzheimer'sMore than 5.7 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, a number expected to rise to 14 million by 2050, according to a March 2018 report by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Every 65 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease.

In the U.S., two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women. Latinas are at higher risk than non-Latinas.

What Can You Do?

If you don’t get enough sleep or have poor quality sleep, there is hope. Addressing these issues may help lower your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Establish a bedtime routine and maintain a regular sleep schedule. If you suspect you have insomnia or sleep apnea, talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options.

The National Sleep Foundation offers a variety of sleeping tips and tricks.

Other leaders are stepping up, too.

One bilingual program is using promotoras to push healthy-sleep messages on the U.S.-Mexico border. San Antonio leaders are educating Latino parents, providing resources, and raising money for research to reduce SIDS and keep infants safe. New Mexico schools are giving students a high-tech nap.

The leaders of the NIAAA study are calling for more research, too.

“Even though our sample was small, this study demonstrated the negative effect of sleep deprivation on beta-amyloid burden in the human brain,” said Dr. Ehsan Shokri-Kojori of the NIAAA. “Future studies are needed to assess the generalizability to a larger and more diverse population.”

By The Numbers By The Numbers

84

percent

of Latino parents support public funding for afterschool programs.

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