Almost everyone these days could use more sleep. But, Alzheimer’s disease and sleep is now apparently a special concern for the elderly and their family members. With over 5 million Americans currently suffering from Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to double within ten years, researchers are trying to determine additional risk factors in order to attempt new treatment methods. Dr. Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley, recently discussed the link between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a buildup of the protein known as beta-amyloid as well as the tangled fibers of the protein called tau. These sticky, brain-clogging proteins build up inside of spaces between nerve cells as well as inside cells. New research revealed that sleep deprivation can spur these proteins to grow and further cause disruption in the sleep cycle. This vicious cycle results in an accumulation of the Alzheimer’s causing plaques and tangles and has been linked to poor memory.
Dr. Walker’s team discovered during its research that sleep problems can interact with the Alzheimer’s disease process. This information helps to explain how the plaque and tangles can begin to damage the brain long before symptoms and problems develop. The good news is that sleep is modifiable and researchers are looking at improving people’s sleeping patterns as a new form of treatment. Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, contribute to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but treatment is available to correct these disorders.
While there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, learning the risk factors, signs, and symptoms can help you catch the disease early and begin treatment. If you would like to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, the statistics, and the warning signs, please read our Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease in Arizona Will and Trust Contests article.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, schedule an appointment with a physician. Dr. Walker’s research team found that the Alzheimer’s causing plaque and tangles in the brain can damage the brain up to 20 years before symptoms show. Difficulty sleeping and sleep disorders may be indicators that these plaques are affecting the brain. It’s best to err on the side of caution when potentially dealing with a devastating illness such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are often vulnerable to being taken advantage of by caregivers and family. If you have questions regarding elder abuse and financial exploitation claims in Arizona, please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email to schedule a consultation.