Beta amyloid deposits and excessive daytime sleepiness may be an accurate predictor of future Alzheimer’s onset in senior citizens, according to a recent National Institute On Aging (NIA) study.
In the study, senior citizens who normally are active during the day but continuously felt sleepy, showed three times more deposits of beta amyloid compared to the control group.
Beta amyloid is a protein found in the brain that clumps together and prevents neuronal transmissions from reaching their destination. The result is severe cognitive decline, memory loss, disrupted sleep patterns, and inability to take care of oneself. The final result is death.
Beta Amyloid: Study Protocol And Results
Researchers used the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging Neuroimaging Substudy data to examine the reported daytime sleepiness levels and napping habits of 124 cognitively healthy men and women participants. This was matched to information from PET scan results from an average of 16 years later.
The results showed that people who reported consistently feeling sleepy during the day were three times more likely to have deposits of beta-amyloid, compared to the control group.
Beta Amyloid: Interpretation
The results of this study showing a strong link between beta-amyloid buildup in the brain to sleep disruption and eventual Alzheimer’s pathology confirms earlier studies.
Previous studies have highlighted the importance of diet and exercise in reducing the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. However, sleep deprivation, less studied, also appears to be a strong contributor as well.
In this study, a yes or no question, if people felt drowsy or fell asleep in the daytime when they wanted to be awake was an effective screen for high-risk, future Alzheimer’s onset.
Expanding future research to study whether the affects of other sleep disorders also link to beta-amyloid build up and Alzheimer’s, should be pursued.