Researchers found that getting less sleep and poor sleep quality are associated with abnormal brain imaging findings suggesting Alzheimer disease (AD) in older adults.
    
Deposits of beta-amyloid plaques are one of the hallmarks of AD. Fluctuations in beta-amyloid levels may be regulated by sleep-wake patterns, the authors said.
    
Adam P Spira, of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and colleagues used data from 70 adults (average age 76 years) in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging to examine whether self-reported sleep factors were associated with beta-amyloid deposition, which was measured by imaging of the brain.
    
Study participants reported sleep that ranged from more than seven hours to no more than 5 hours. Reports of shorter sleep duration and lower sleep quality were both associated with greater beta-amyloid buildup.
    
The authors acknowledged their study design does not allow them to determine whether sleep disturbance precedes beta-amyloid deposition, so they are unable to say that poor sleep causes AD.
    
"In summary, our findings in a sample of community-dwelling older adults indicate that reports of shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality are associated with a greater beta-amyloid burden," researchers said.
    
"As evidence of this association accumulates, intervention trials will be needed to determine whether optimising sleep can prevent or slow AD progression," they added.
    
The study was published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

(Agencies)

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