Trouble Sleeping? It May Affect Your Memory Later On. The amount and quality of sleep you get at night may affect your memory later in life, according to research that was released today and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28, 2012. “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 and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Further research is needed to determine why this is happening and whether sleep changes may predict cognitive decline.” Researchers tested the sleep patterns of 100 people between the ages of 45 and 80 who were free of dementia. Half of the group had a family history of Alzheimer’s disease. A device was placed on the participants for two weeks to measure sleep. Sleep diaries and
questionnaires were also analyzed by researchers. After the study, it was discovered that 25 percent of the participants had evidence of amyloid plaques, which can appear years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease begin. The average time a person spent in bed during the study was about eight hours, but the average sleep time was 6.5 hours due to short awakenings in the night. The study found that people who woke up more than five times per hour were more likely to have amyloid plaque build-up compared to people who didn’t wake up as much. The study also found those people who slept “less efficiently” were more likely to have the markers of early stage Alzheimer’s disease than those who slept more efficiently. In other words, those who spent less than 85 percent of their time in bed actually sleeping were more likely to have the markers than those who spent more than 85 percent of their time in bed actually sleeping. “The association between disrupted sleep and amyloid plaques is intriguing, but the information from this study can’t determine a cause-effect relationship or the direction of this relationship. We need longer-term studies, following individuals’ sleep over years, to determine whether disrupted sleep leads to amyloid plaques, or whether brain changes in early Alzheimer’s disease lead to changes in sleep,” Ju said. “Our study lays the groundwork for investigating whether manipulating sleep is a possible strategy in the prevention or slowing of Alzheimer disease.” The study was supported by the Ellison Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 25,000
neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. – Prof. Yo-El Ju specializes in sleep medicine. She sees patients at the Washington University Multidisciplinary Sleep Medicine Center. Medical Training; Dr. Ju attended Harvard College, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2001. She received her MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York in 2005. She completed a residency in Neurology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, followed by clinical and research fellowships at Washington University in Sleep Medicine. She joined the faculty after training and is currently an assistant professor. Areas of Clinical Interest; Evaluation and treatment of patients with sleep disorders, including parasomnias, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, and obstructive sleep apnea. Polysomnograms (sleep studies) are frequently part of this evaluation. Areas of Research Interest; Interaction of sleep and neurodegenerative diseases. Specific interests include REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), relationship of sleep and risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, and functional neuroimaging of sleep disorders. News from: American Academy of Neurology (AAN) & Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
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