Published on: March 23, 2012
by Ninoska Marcano for VOXXI
Your sleep patterns might be linked to memory loss as you age, according to a recent study by the American Academy of Neurology. This new information could prove essential in the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease and other memory related conditions like dementia.
“Disrupted sleep appears to be associated with the build-up of amyloid plaques, a hallmark marker of Alzheimer’s disease, in the brains of people without memory problems,” said study author Yo-El Ju, MD, with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
The study findings were simple: people who woke up more than five times per hour and those with less efficient sleeping habits, were more prone to have amyloid plaque build-up compared to people who did not wake up as often. Amyloid plaque build-up is characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.
Twenty-five percent of people participating in the study had evidence of amyloid plaque build-up after a bad night of sleep.
More “efficient sleepers” – described as those who spent more than 85 percent of the time in their beds actually sleeping – were less likely to accumulate amyloid plaques compared to “inefficient sleepers.”
“Our study lays the groundwork for investigating whether manipulating sleep is a possible strategy in the prevention or slowing of Alzheimer disease,” said Dr. Yo-El Ju.
The National sleep Foundation (NSF) reports that approximately 40 million people suffer from an estimated 70 types of sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more often.
On the other hand, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) eports that an estimated 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. This number has doubled since 1980, and is expected to be as high as 16 million by 2050.
Latinos are about 1.5 more times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. The number of Hispanics in the United States who suffer from Alzheimer’s and related dementia could increase to 1.3 million by the year 2050, according to the Alzheimer’s Association 2010 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report.
Last year, total Medicare and Medicaid spending costs for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease was estimated at $130 billion.
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