A team of researchers at the University of California, Berkley found that sleep quality may be a predictor of potential future onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Their study appeared in the journal Current Biology.
For their new research, the UC Berkley team studied the sleep quality of 32 healthy participants in late-adulthood, focusing on the build-up of beta-amyloid, a hallmark indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.
In the findings, the research team determined that the participants with decreased sleep quality and less non-rapid eye movement slow-wave sleep were at a higher risk of increased beta-amyloid.
The correlation between beta-amyloid growth and sleep quality could help forecast the beginning of the neurodegenerative disease, researchers suggest.
“Rather than waiting for someone to develop dementia many years down the road, we are able to assess how sleep quality predicts changes in beta-amyloid plaques across multiple timepoints. In doing so, we can measure how quickly this toxic protein accumulates in the brain over time, which can indicate the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease,” according to the study’s lead author.
Since sleep was found to cleanse the brain of beta-amyloid deposits, as highlighted in past research, researchers theorize that improved sleep may reduce one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
“Our hope is that if we intervene, then in three or four years the buildup is no longer where we thought it would be because we improved their sleep.”