Alzheimer’s Brain Plaques

Does the brain clean Alzheimer’s plaques out while you sleep??  Does sleep deprivation prevent the brain from cleaning these plaques out?

Sleep may be called the “clean cycle” for the brain to clean out sticky proteins called amyloid-beta protein fragments that can stick together in the brain.  These plaques are present as a hallmark in Alzheimer’s disease which is the most common form of condition known as dementia.

Neuroscientist Barbara Bendlin of the University of Wisconsin–Madison is a researcher.  Located there is the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention.  A recent study included over than 1,500 subjects aged 40-65 at the start of the study.

Since 2001, these subjects are regularly tested for signs of Alzheimer’s.  This includes amyloid-beta presence  in the brain.  Additionally each subject fills out long questionnaires including questions like: How tired are you?  Those who did not sleep well and were tired during the day tended to have more or these plaques.  This was reported in 2015 in Neurobiology of Aging.  Another group had a spinal tap which showed these Alzheimer’s markers in the spinal fluid as reported last year in Neurology.

Animal studies have shown that the levels of amyloid-beta go down substantially during the animal’s sleep. Even a single sleepless night seems to leave an excess of amyloid-beta behind in the brain.  But gaps remain in our knowledge.  For instance, what degree of sleep deprivation makes a difference.  But we do know that this daytime tiredness is a result of not getting enough time in stages 4 & 5 of the sleep cycle.  And then  Alzheimer’s is known to cause one to have difficulty sleeping.  So Alzheimer’s affects one’s sleep and is affected by one’s sleep; so which comes first?  More research is needed.

But if you are snoring or have daytime tiredness, you need to be tested for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  It’s a simple test done in your home and if you are diagnosed with OSA, a simple oral device like I wear can eliminate the problem.  Come in for a free consultation and see your options.  We are the only Comprehensive Sleep Center in the Inland Empire.