Sleep disruptions similar to jet lag could cause memory problems linked to Alzheimer’s disease, new research finds.
It’s well-known by scientists that there’s a link between Alzheimer’s and sleep, but not what causes what.
Professor Gregory Brewer, who led the research, said:
“The issue is whether poor sleep accelerates the development of Alzheimer’s disease or vice versa.
It’s a chicken-or-egg dilemma, but our research points to disruption of sleep as the accelerator of memory loss.”
The research gave jet-lag to mice that had been genetically engineered to suffer from Alzheimer’s.
They did this by moving the dark period every three days to a different time — which is what causes jet-lag.
The jet-lagged mice had lower levels of an antioxidant that helps fight cellular damage, such as that caused by Alzheimer’s.
This suggests it could be poor sleep that is contributing to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Brewer said:
“This study suggests that clinicians and caregivers should add good sleep habits to regular exercise and a healthy diet to maximize good memory.”
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Brewer et al., 2015).
Yawn image from Shutterstock