Trouble sleeping? It may affect your memory later on

February 14, 2012

The amount and quality of sleep you get at night may affect your memory later in life, according to research that was released today and will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans April 21 to April 28, 2012.

"Disrupted sleep appears to be associated with the build-up of amyloid plaques, a hallmark marker of Alzheimer's disease, in the brains of people without ," said study author Yo-El Ju, MD, with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "Further research is needed to determine why this is happening and whether sleep changes may predict ."

Researchers tested the of 100 people between the ages of 45 and 80 who were free of . Half of the group had a of Alzheimer's disease. A device was placed on the participants for two weeks to measure sleep. Sleep diaries and questionnaires were also analyzed by researchers.

After the study, it was discovered that 25 percent of the participants had evidence of amyloid plaques, which can appear years before the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease begin. The average time a person spent in bed during the study was about eight hours, but the average was 6.5 hours due to short awakenings in the night.

The study found that people who woke up more than five times per hour were more likely to have amyloid plaque build-up compared to people who didn't wake up as much. The study also found those people who slept "less efficiently" were more likely to have the markers of early stage Alzheimer's disease than those who slept more efficiently. In other words, those who spent less than 85 percent of their time in bed actually sleeping were more likely to have the markers than those who spent more than 85 percent of their time in bed actually sleeping.

"The association between disrupted sleep and amyloid plaques is intriguing, but the information from this study can't determine a cause-effect relationship or the direction of this relationship. We need longer-term studies, following individuals' sleep over years, to determine whether disrupted sleep leads to , or whether brain changes in early Alzheimer's disease lead to changes in sleep," Ju said. "Our study lays the groundwork for investigating whether manipulating sleep is a possible strategy in the prevention or slowing of Alzheimer disease."

Explore further: Study identifies chemical changes in brains of people at risk for Alzheimer's disease

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Study identifies how brain connects memories across time

May 23, 2016

Using a miniature microscope that opens a window into the brain, UCLA neuroscientists have identified in mice how the brain links different memories over time. While aging weakens these connections, the team devised a way ...

Neuroscientists illuminate role of autism-linked gene

May 25, 2016

A new study from MIT neuroscientists reveals that a gene mutation associated with autism plays a critical role in the formation and maturation of synapses—the connections that allow neurons to communicate with each other.

Teen brains facilitate recovery from traumatic memories

May 25, 2016

Unique connections in the adolescent brain make it possible to easily diminish fear memories and avoid anxiety later in life, according to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine researchers. The findings may have important ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.