Researchers looking for the long-sought cause of Alzheimer’s Disease may have found a giant piece of the puzzle.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found evidence that poor sleep is a channel through which certain proteins are able to attack the brain’s long-term memory and cause Alzheimer’s.
Excessive deposits of protein beta-amyloid are a key suspect in the cause of Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia caused by the gradual death of brain cells. An unprecedented wave of aging baby boomers is expected to make Alzheimer’s disease, which has been diagnosed in more than 40 million people, one of the world’s fastest-growing and most debilitating public health concerns.
A buildup of beta-amyloid has been found in Alzheimer’s patients and, independently, in people reporting sleep disorders. Moreover, a 2013 University of Rochester study found that the brain cells of mice would shrink during non-rapid-eye-movement (non-REM) sleep to make space for cerebrospinal fluids to wash out toxic metabolites such as beta-amyloid.
Scientists at UC Berkeley say the great news about this finding is that poor sleep is potentially treatable.