Alzheimer’s is a dreaded disorder, which has unfortunately become quite common around the world. The distress that it causes to the person suffering from it, as well as to their loved ones, is immense. This is why researchers are trying to determine if Alzheimer’s can be predicted and prevented before its onset. In a new study, scientists have discovered that people experiencing difficulty in sleep could be at a much higher risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s than those who get a good night’s sleep.

Insufficient sleep causes Alzheimer’s?

Researchers based their conclusion on a study performed on 101 participants with an average age of 63.

These people were healthy and did not suffer from Alzheimer’s or any other cognitive disorders. However, each of them had certain known risk factors, such as family history and the APOE gene. The participants filled out questionnaires that were designed to measure the amount of sleep, along with the quality of said sleep and other such factors.

Researchers analyzed the Cerebrospinal Fluid of each of their participants to determine which proteins were formed when a person experiences sleepless nights, and also if these proteins were responsible for the eventual onset of Alzheimer’s. Inflammatory markers in the cerebrospinal fluid also led scientists to some exciting discoveries.

What did the research reveal?

It was discovered that people who suffered from sleep disorders, such as insomnia were more likely to develop the Alzheimer’s symptoms. This was clearly indicated by the increased markers for the disease in the cerebrospinal fluid of the people who had a Lack Of Sleep. These markers did not appear in [people who reported that they experienced sound sleep at night.

Currently, researchers cannot understand why exactly these markers started appearing in the people lacking sleep. However, a previous animal study discovered that good sleep resulted in the brain clearing up the some of the trash proteins which are formed in the brain. Among them is a protein named beta-amyloid, which is a known component in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s.

This study could have far-reaching implications as researchers believe that it predicts a preventive measure which may be practiced by people to stand a better chance of avoiding infliction with Alzheimer’s. If by following a good sleeping pattern the onset of the disease can be slowed by even five years, it would mean that the number of cases in the next 30 years would be reduced by 5.7 million.

However, there are some limitations to the study, which was published in the “American Academy of Neurology.” The sleep quality and other measuring factors were self-reported by the participants and not monitored in a lab setting. So, the data may not be as accurate as the researchers are thinking.