Researchers are providing more and more evidence that a brain deprived of sufficiently long and deep sleep is more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Changes in sleeping habits can prepare the ground for dementia” , says Jeffrey Iliff, a brain researcher at the University of Oregon Health and Science in Portland.
It turns out that during sleep, the brain cleans itself of toxins combined with the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease . As shown in animal studies, if the body does not get enough of a healthy sleep dose, these toxins can accumulate and cause brain damage.
Iliff and a team of researchers are beginning research to explain the relationship between sleep problems and Alzheimer’s disease in humans. It has long been suspected that there must be a connection between these two conditions, as people with this condition often also suffer from sleep disorders .
” It was long believed that this was happening because the disease was destroying the brain center responsible for regulating sleep” says Iliff. However, the last two findings indicate that this relationship can be much more complex.
The first evidence comes from 2009, from research at the University of Washington in St. Louis. Observations have shown that amyloid plaques, which are associated with the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease, formed much faster in the brains of mice that did not have adequate sleep.
In subsequent studies, Iliff and his research team discovered how a lack of sleep can accelerate the development of these plaques. Researchers found that during deep sleep there is an extremely effective brain cleansing process, at least in animals.
According to Iliff, at this time a process occurs in which the cerebrospinal fluid, usually located outside the brain , begins to re-circulate inside the brain around the blood vessels. This system, called the glimphatic system, allows the brain to cleanse toxins , including those that are responsible for the formation of amyloid plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers want to conduct similar research in 2016, but this time with people to make sure that their discovery is also applicable to humans. Researchers hope that their research will contribute to a better understanding of the causes of the disease and the development of new treatments.