Analysis of data captured during a long-term study of aging adults shows that those who report being very sleepy during the day were nearly three times more likely than those who didn’t to have brain deposits of beta amyloid, a protein that’s a hallmark for Alzheimer’s disease, years later.
The finding, to be reported Sept. 5 in the journal SLEEP, adds to a growing body of evidence that poor quality sleep could encourage this form of dementia to develop, suggesting that getting adequate nighttime sleep could be a way to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
“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,” says Dr. Adam P. Spira, associate professor in the department of mental health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Spira led the study with collaborators from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the Bloomberg School and Johns Hopkins Medicine.
“If disturbed sleep contributes to Alzheimer’s disease,” he adds, “we may be able to treat patients with sleep issues to avoid these negative outcomes.”