Sleep Disturbances Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease
Poor sleep may be a sign that otherwise healthy individuals may have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life over those who do not have sleep problems, according to a study published in the July 5, 2017 edition of Neurology. Researchers recruited 101 people who were considered at risk of developing Alzheimer’s, including those with a parent with the disease or carrying the apolipoprotein E gene. The study included a survey about sleep quality and spinal fluid samples that were tested for biological markers of Alzheimer’s disease such as signs of amyloid, tau, and brain cell damage and inflammation. Results showed that individuals who reported worse sleep quality, more sleep problems, and daytime sleepiness had more biological markers for Alzheimer’s disease in their spinal fluid than those who did not have sleep problems. Still, not everyone with sleep problems has abnormalities in their spinal fluid, according to the authors, citing the absence of a link between biological markers in the spinal fluid and obstructive sleep apnea. While the results adjusted for factors such as use of medications for sleep problems, amount of education, depression symptoms, and BMI, the authors noted that the self-reported nature of the sleep problems represent a potential limitation.