Common sleeping pills may reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease

There’s still a lot we don’t know about Alzheimer’s disease, but the link between poor sleep and disease progression is something researchers are focusing more on in their latest research.

In a study published in the journal Neurology, scientists found that using sleeping pills to get some sleep can reduce the build-up of toxic clumps of proteins in the fluids that wash the brain each night.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that people who took suvorexant, a common treatment for insomnia, for two nights saw a slight decrease in two proteins, amyloid beta and tau, that accumulate in Alzheimer’s disease.

Although the study was short and involved a small group of healthy adults, it is interesting evidence of the relationship between sleep and molecular markers of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleep disturbance may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease, preceding other symptoms such as memory loss and cognitive decline. By the time the first symptoms develop, abnormal amyloid beta levels have nearly peaked, forming clumps called plaques that clog brain cells.

Researchers believe that promoting sleep is one way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease by allowing the sleepy brain to flush out the rest of the day’s proteins and other waste products.

While sleeping pills may help in this regard, “it’s probably too early for people who are worried about developing Alzheimer’s to start taking medication,” says neurologist Brendan Losey of the University of Washington Center for Sleep Medicine, who led the research.

The study lasted only two nights and included 38 middle-aged participants who showed no signs of cognitive impairment and no sleep problems.

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Research shows that even one night of disrupted sleep can lead to higher levels of amyloid beta.

A group of volunteers between the ages of 45 and 65 received either the drug or a placebo pill.

The researchers continued to collect samples every two hours for 36 hours while the participants slept and the following day and night, to measure how protein levels changed.

There were no differences in sleep between the groups, although amyloid beta concentrations were reduced by 10 to 20 percent in those who used the drug.

The study concluded that improved sleep can have a positive impact on brain health and disease prevention.

Source: Al Hura

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