The health-conscious do their best to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, minimize stress, and sleep well. But they may not live to a happy old age if they have trouble sleeping.
A research team headed by Dr. Ehsan Shokri-Kojori, from the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that just one sleepless night significantly raised levels of the dangerous protein beta-amyloid in the body. The build-up of this toxic protein is said to be responsible for the most common form of dementia.
The research team performed brain scans on 20 healthy volunteers after they slept an average of 7.3 hours, and following a sleepless night. The researchers measured the concentrations of beta-amyloid in the volunteers’ brains. They discovered that levels of this toxic protein rose by five percent in areas of the brain most closely linked with Alzheimer’s. These experts explained that inadequate rest may make it harder for the body to get rid of these toxins.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Shokri-Kojori said that their findings stress the importance of good sleep hygiene for proper brain function. He added that a good night’s sleep can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
These findings support earlier research which hinted at a link between poor sleep and impaired brain functions.
Sadly, the number of Alzheimer’s cases is on the rise in U.K., where around 850,000 dementia patients are found. The figure is expected to hit one million within a decade.