Excessive Daytime Sleepiness May Link to Alzheimer's Disease

Beta amyloid is a protein that involved in Alzheimer’s disease. People who are very sleepy during the daytime experience three times the risk of deposing the beta amyloid in their brains when comparing to those who aren’t sleepy, according to a study published in the journal SLEEP.

That is to say, people who have excessive daytime sleepiness may at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The study also proved that poor quality sleep may contribute to dementia and getting enough nighttime sleep may help prevent dementia.

The study was led by Adam P. Spira, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and his collaborators from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the Bloomberg School and Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“Factors like diet, exercise and cognitive activity have been widely recognized as important potential targets for Alzheimer’s disease prevention, but sleep hasn’t quite risen to that status—although that may well be changing,” Adam P. Spira said, “If disturbed sleep contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. We may be able to treat patients with sleep issues to avoid these negative outcomes.”

There was a long-term study, called Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), started by the NIA in 1958. The long-study followed the health conditions of thousands of participants as they’re aging. Researchers of this new study used data of the long-term study and selected 123 participants.

Through analyzing their data, they found that people who reported daytime sleepiness or napping were about three times more likely to have beta-amyloid deposition in their brain than those who didn’t report daytime fatigue.
After adjusting for some factors that may affect daytime sleepiness, such as sex, age, body mass index. The risk of beta-amyloid deposition still 2.75 times higher in people with daytime sleepiness.

The researchers didn’t find why daytime sleepiness cause beta-amyloid to deposit, but they suggested that according to previous studies, disturbed sleep or insufficient sleep could cause beta-amyloid to deposit through a currently unknown mechanism, and these sleep disturbances also might lead to excessive daytime sleepiness. But daytime sleepiness itself might cause beta-amyloid to deposit as well. It needs more further researching.

Spira added: “There is no cure yet for Alzheimer’s disease, so we have to do our best to prevent it. Even if a cure is developed, prevention strategies should be emphasized. Prioritizing sleep may be one way to help prevent or perhaps slow this condition.”

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