People who do not get enough sleep have a TRIPLE risk of Alzheimer's, according to a study

The Johns Hopkins research team, which works with the National Institute on Aging, said its findings are part of a wave of research that shows that sleep may be more important to our health than we think.

People who feel sleepy during the day may be three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than their peers, new research suggests.

By tracking 123 volunteers for 16 years, the researchers found that regardless of the reason, whether it was lack of sleep, stress or something else, daytime sleepiness was associated with an increased risk of the disease.

The Johns Hopkins research team, which works with the National Institute on Aging, said its findings are part of a wave of research that shows that sleep may be more important to our health than we think.

"Factors such as diet, exercise and cognitive activity have been widely recognized as important potential targets for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease, but the dream has not reached that state, although that may be changing," says Adam P. Spira, PhD, associate. Professor in the Mental Health Department of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The Johns Hopkins research team, which works with the National Institute on Aging, said its findings are part of a wave of research that shows that sleep may be more important to our health than we think.

The Johns Hopkins research team, which works with the National Institute on Aging, said its findings are part of a wave of research that shows that sleep may be more important to our health than we think.

"If disturbed sleep contributes to Alzheimer's disease," he adds, "we may be able to treat patients with sleep problems to avoid these negative outcomes."

The new study is based on a selection of people from one of the largest studies on aging in the United States.

The Longitudinal Study of Aging of Baltimore (BLSA) was initiated by the NIA in 1958, tracking thousands of volunteers, who were routinely given questionnaires to complete.

Between 1991 and 2000, tests were carried out that posed a simple yes or no question: "Do you usually fall asleep or fall asleep during the day when you want to be awake?" They were also asked: "Are you sleeping? & # 39; with answer options of & # 39; diary & # 39 ;, & # 39; 1-2 times per week & # 39 ;, & # 39; 3-5 times per week & # 39; and & # 39; rarely or never & # 39;

In 1994, a selection of them began to receive neuroimaging evaluations. In 2005, some of them received PET scans that can track plaque buildup related to Alzheimer's.

Of the thousands enrolled, the Johns Hopkins research team identified 123 volunteers who answered the questions above and took a PET scan 16 years later.

When analyzing the data, they wanted to see if there was a connection between participants who reported daytime sleepiness or napping and whether they got positive results for the deposition of beta-amyloid in their brains.

Their results showed that those who reported daytime sleepiness were three times more likely to have beta amyloid deposits than those who did not report fatigue during the day.

After adjusting for age, sex, education and body mass index, the risk was still 2.75 times higher in those with daytime sleepiness.

Spira said they are still unclear why daytime sleepiness would correlate with the deposition of beta-amyloid protein.

It may be that being tired while the sun is shining derails a chemical balance in the body, somehow causing this protein to form in the brain.

However, it is more likely to have something to do with what happens at night; that poor quality sleep triggers the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques. The reason why it is the preferred theory is because it is related to other research that shows that patients with sleep apnea are at an increased risk of Alzheimer's. But, again, it is not clear why.

"However, we can not rule out that the amyloid plaques that were present at the time of sleep evaluation caused drowsiness," he added.

It is not the first time that sleep and Alzheimer's are reconciled.

Alzheimer's patients tend to have trouble sleeping. In fact, that is one of the main reasons why families end up agreeing to place a relative suffering from dementia in a nursing home: they can not stand the sleepless nights.

Studies suggest that this is because the entanglements of Alzheimer's plaques in the brain impede a person's ability to sleep.

However, few studies have analyzed it from the other side, as to whether a poor sleep could be a cause, not simply a symptom, of the disease.

If so, says Spira, this is good news for doctors. Many of us scratch with nights of sleep to put more things into the day. But sleeping better is not impossible. If it is shown to be a fundamental factor that affects our neurological health, patients can finally be convinced that they will gladly get there early at night.

"There is still no cure for Alzheimer's disease, so we must do everything possible to prevent it." Even if a cure is developed, prevention strategies should be emphasized, "says Spira.

"Prioritizing sleep can be a way to help prevent or perhaps curb this condition."

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