A recent study has found that older adults who do not get enough sleep may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, examined 26 adults between the ages of 65 to 81. None of them had been diagnosed with any sleep disorder, mental illness, or form of dementia. The researchers used a PET scan to observe the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque in the participants’ brains; they also asked participants to memorize 120 pairs of word.
The participants slept for eight hours while the UC Berkeley researchers recorded their brain waves. In the morning, they received MRI scans while they tried to recite the 120 word pairs.
The researchers found that people with greater buildup of beta-amyloid in the medial frontal cortex performed the worst on the memory test and had the lowest quality of sleep. Poor sleep may inhibit memory formation in the brain and even trigger the spread of beta-amyloid, the researchers said.
“Over the past few years, the links between sleep, beta-amyloid, memory, and Alzheimer’s disease have been growing stronger,” said William Jagust, a co-leader of the study. “Our study shows that this beta-amyloid deposition may lead to a vicious cycle in which sleep is further disturbed and memory impaired.”
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