American Academy of Sleep Medicine Issues Advisory: Insufficient Sleep May Increase Risk for Alzheimer’s Disease

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has issued a health advisory warning that insufficient or poor sleep may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The AASM believes early intervention to treat sleep disorders may help prevent or delay AD.

Epidemiologic studies show that years of chronic sleep loss or poor sleep may contribute to gradual accumulation of amyloid-beta (Aß), which is linked to the pathophysiology of AD, and that Aß may be flushed out of the brain when sufficient sleep is achieved consistently.

“Research suggests, if not proves at this point that sleep deprivation may actually increase the risk for AD,” said Dr. Ronald Chervin, AASM past president. “These findings highlight two take-home points. First, good sleep, for enough hours each night, should be a priority for anyone who cares about the long-term health of his or her brain. And second, adults who sleep poorly should speak to their physicians, or visit an accredited sleep center. The goal is not only to improve health, safety and quality of life, but quite possibly to help reduce risk for dementia down the line.”

The advisory focuses particularly on obstructive sleep apnea, a common cause of poor sleep, noting that the ongoing, repetitive sleep disturbances and resulting low oxygen levels and increases in Aß may contribute to profession of Alzheimer’s disease.

The AASM also calls for more research into the role of insufficient and poor sleep in the development of dementia and calls on the National Institutes of Health, including the National Institute on Aging, and other federal and private funding agencies to prioritize the funding of such research.

Dr. Ilene Rosen, President of the AASM said “(We) recommend clinicians screen adults for signs of a possible sleep disorder, such as excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, and unrefreshing sleep.”

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