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Less Sleep Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

Update Date: Oct 21, 2013 04:59 PM EDT

Not getting enough sleep may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease in older adults, a new study suggests.

Researchers recently linked getting less sleep and poor sleep quality to abnormal brain scans suggesting Alzheimer's in older people.

The study used data from 70 adults with an average age of 76 years. Participants were part of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging that looked at whether self-reported sleep factors were associated with Αβ deposition, which was measured by imaging of the brain.

Participants reported sleep that ranged from more than seven hours to less than five hours.

The findings revealed that shorter sleep duration and lower sleep quality were both associated with greater Αβ buildup. Researchers said this is worrying because depsoits of β-Amyloid (Αβ) plaques are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers said the latest findings also suggest that Αβ levels may be regulated by sleep-wake patterns.

"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 Αβ burden. As evidence of this association accumulates, intervention trials will be needed to determine whether optimizing sleep can prevent or slow AD progression," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Neurology.

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