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Losing Even One Night’s Sleep May Increase Beta-Amyloid in Brain

A recent study suggests that even one night of lost sleep may increase beta-amyloid in the brain. Beta-amyloid is a protein whose buildup has been associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.


Participants in the study included 20 healthy people between the ages of 22 and 72. The researchers scanned their brains after a night of rested sleep and after being awake for 31 hours. They found an increase of approximately 5% in beta-amyloid in the participants’ brains after the sleep deprivation. The areas of the brain with build-up included the thalamus and the hippocampus, which are two regions that are particularly vulnerable to damage in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.


The researchers also found that the people with the greatest build-up of beta-amyloid were in a worse mood than those with a smaller build up. The study did not examine if the beta-amyloid levels reduced after a full night of rest.


Researchers from the National Institutes of Health conducted the study. It was published on April 24, 2018, in PNAS.


Previous studies have linked not getting enough sleep with faster cognitive decline, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Some methods to try to improve your sleep include eating less high fat foods, eliminating “blue light” (such as the light from your phone) just before bed, eliminating caffeine before bed time, and increasing exercise levels.

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