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Daytime sleepiness could be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease

by , 21 March 2018
Daytime sleepiness could be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease
Do you often feel sleepy during the day? Then you might have harmful plaque building in your brain that's a sign of impending Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in JAMA Neurology.

The accumulation of a protein called beta-amyloid is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. It's believed that better sleep clears beta-amyloid, while poor sleep allows it to build up, the authors of the study pointed out. Keep reading for their full findings.

Study links daytime sleepiness in older adults to impending Alzheimer’s disease

The study was led by Prashanthi Vemuri, an associate professor of radiology at the Mayo Clinic in the United States. To reach their findings, the study team looked at nearly 300 people aged 70 and older who didn’t suffer from dementia. About 22% of the participants reported having excessive daytime sleepiness at the start of the study.
The participants completed a survey about sleep and had at least two brain scans between 2009 and 2016. The study team compared the scans in search of changes in the brain and found increased beta-amyloids in key brain areas in participants who reported being very sleepy during the day.
“Elderly individuals with excessive daytime sleepiness may be more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease-related changes,” said Vemuri.


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Therefore, disrupted sleep may be a risk factor for increased amyloid...

Vemuri clarified that the study is only observational and as such doesn’t prove that poor sleep causes an increase in beta-amyloid. However, the association between sleep and beta-amyloid was so strong that the study team does believe that a link exists – they just aren’t clear on what that link may be.
“Sleep has been proposed to be important for clearance of brain amyloid,” she said. “This study affirms that disrupted sleep may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease via increased amyloid.”
But keep this in mind: While beta-amyloid build-up is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease, it doesn’t doom one to the disease as it might only be a sign of other ageing processes.

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