Dr. Barbara Bendlin weighs in on the connections between sleep and Alzheimer's disease

dr barbara bendling

How tired are you?

This is the question asked of a group of people participating in a WRAP, or Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention, study. These people, aged 40-65 years old, did not have symptoms of dementia when they volunteered for the registry, but there is a strong prevalence of a family history of Alzheimer’s disease—occurring in 70% of the group.

Dr. Bendlin’s sleep study consisted of participants regularly being tested for memory loss, the presence of amyloid-beta, other signs of dementia, as well as completing questionnaires about their lives, including questions such as, "How tired are you?”

The study consisted of 98 people who recorded their sleep quality in the questionnaire and completed brain scans. Dr. Bendlin and her team found those who reported sleeping badly (poorly?) also had more amyloid-beta plaques visible on brain imaging. The study also engaged with another 101 participants who completed a lumbar puncture in addition to the questionnaire. The biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease present in the spinal fluid were found to be associated with reporting poor sleep.

Dr. Bendlin’s study is just one of a growing number of studies that suggest a brain without adequate sleep may be more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.

The brain may clean out Alzheimer’s plaques during sleep” was posted on Sunday, July 15, 2018 on sciencenews.org and also featured in the Sciences News Magazine Vol. 194, No. 2, July 21, 2018, p.22.