People often assume that disrupted sleep is a side effect of Alzheimer’s disease destroying someone’s biological clock, but that theory has since been proven inaccurate by researchers out of Cambridge, Berkley and other prestigious universities. Researchers are confident that they have a link that may cause the disruption.
The Link Between Sleep, Beta Amyloid, and Alzheimer’s disease
Researchers from Cambridge University looked at the biological clock from fruit flies, both fruit flies that had Alzheimer’s disease and those that did not. They used infrared beams to check the sleep patterns of both groups of fruit flies.
What they found is that the biological clock is still intact – but it is just being ignored by other parts of the brain. Even though researchers are unable to determine why that is happening exactly, knowing that it is happening certainly does offer a great deal of information that they can use in the future. By finding out what the underlying problem is, it means that you are able to use different therapies to tackle problems with Alzheimer’s disease.
What Does That Mean?
We now know that Alzheimer’s disease does not destroy the biological clock, so what does it do? The answer to that question might be found in the protein called beta amyloid. According to studies done at Berkley, good sleep is able to remove the harmful beta amyloid buildup. This harmful beta amyloid buildup leads to memory loss and poor overall memory.
Even though we are obviously simplifying the theory here, it often means that you get poorer sleep if you have more beta-amyloid in certain parts of the brain. This means that the memory worsens and people get less deep sleep. The less sleep people get, the worse the brain becomes at removing the bad protein. This is a rather vicious cycle that people with Alzheimer’s disease cannot seem to escape.
What Does It Mean For Alzheimer’s disease?
Even though this is pure speculation, researchers believe that proactively improving sleep could lead to the breaking of the chain that causes the degradation of memory. By intervening (by improving sleep), it could have a number of different benefits for those who have Alzheimer’s disease.
Unfortunately for those who have loved ones who struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, there is no immediate answer to the issue. There is nothing that we can currently do to magically cure or prevent the disease. What we do know is that this research is going to go a long way towards helping others prevent and slow down memory loss.