Health Tip – Jan. 8 – Better Sleep and Alzheimer’s Risk
Dee Dee – Health Tip
Half of older adults have symptoms of insomnia which may put them at added risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found that amyloid plaques in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, are associated with the number of hours an older adult sleeps and the quality of that sleep.
The investigators used PET (positron emission tomography) scans of seniors’ brains to measure amyloid plaques. They also reviewed the sleeping problems described by participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. The study participants, whose average age was 76, reported sleep times ranging from more than seven hours to five hours or less. The researchers found that shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with a greater amount of amyloid plaque.
Study leader Adam Spira, Ph.D. suggested that treating seniors for sleeping problems or helping them maintain healthy sleeping patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. He noted that the results of this study don’t prove that poor sleep causes Alzheimer’s and said that more research is needed to examine whether sleeping problems alone contributes to or accelerates the disease.