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Daytime sleepiness predicted the appearance of amyloid beta in the brain

Friends / NBC, 2000

American scientists have conducted a long-term study of the relationship between somnolence in old age and the presence of beta-amyloids in the brain, a factor that indicates a risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They found that among those people who at the age of 60 often felt day fatigue, the number of pathogenic peptides in the brain after 15 years was three times higher. This is reported in an article published in the magazine Sleep .

Sleep problems are often associated with the risk of developing Alzheimer’s: for example, it is reported that its deficiency significantly increases thechances of developing concomitant dementia. In addition, an even sleepless night can increase the risk of developing the disease.

With age, the quality of sleep deteriorates, and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease increases, but little is known about this relationship. American scientists led by Adam Spira from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine decided to test the relationship between daytime drowsiness – an obvious indicator of lack of sleep at night – and the amount of amyloid beta in the brain. To do this, scientists conducted a long-term study, in which 124 people took part. At the beginning of the observations, all the volunteers were mentally healthy, and their average age was 60 years.

Participants were asked to assess how many times a week they feel tired and fall asleep during daytime activities (for example, watching TV or reading a book) and whether they are asleep during the day. Also, volunteers provided data on their age, sex, body mass index and education. Amount of beta amyloids in the brain was assessed by positron emission tomography .

The second observation was conducted after 15 years. Scientists found that among those people who often complained of drowsiness and often slept during the day, the chance of having pathogenic proteins was three times higher. After correction of the dependence taking into account the side variables (age, education, sex and body mass index) the chance was higher by 2.75 times.

It should be clarified that the authors could not find the relationship between somnolence and the development of Alzheimer’s disease: for the entire time of observation, the disease was diagnosed only in two volunteers, which is not enough to establish a statistically significant relationship even with a relatively small sample. Nevertheless, the presence of beta-amyloids is one of the brightest and most accurate markers of the development of the disease, therefore this link should be observed further.

About sleep we write often enough, that’s why recently launched a special topic – “Quiet Hour”: in the materials you can find out how much you really need to sleep, how different kinds of animals sleep , and how insomnia and bullying are related . 

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