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Sleep Could Be the Missing Link in Certain Types of Dementia

In patients with dementia, a sleep deficits may link accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain to cognitive impairment.
sleep and dementia or cognitive decline

Lately, there’s been some debate about how important a protein called beta-amyloid is in causing diseases like Alzheimer’s. Drugs developed to block the amyloid protein have not been as effective as expected. Nonetheless, amyloid, a protein whose clumping action may block the brain’s ability to send and receive signals, is present in a number of dementias. New research shows that rather than directly cause the symptoms of memory loss and cognitive decline, amyloid build-up may act indirectly, by interrupting normal sleep.

The research from Drs. Carol Lippa and Jason You shows that beta-amyloid accumulation may be connected to certain kinds of sleep disruption in patients with dementia. Through statistical modeling, the investigators found that disrupted nighttime sleep – caused by amyloid beta accumulation – was associated with greater cognitive decline.

Though more investigation is needed to explore this relationship, it suggests that sleep disruption should be considered in future research into ways to improve or delay cognitive decline in patients with dementia.

Learn more about this research.

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Research & Innovation