Is sleep a modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease?

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The authors of a new study suggest targeting poor sleep could delay or diminish symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Much research has explored the links between sleep in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in recent years, with studies demonstrating that self-reported poor sleep is associated with AD brain pathophysiology.

Findings from a new study have prompted calls for a closer inspection of the impact of sleep hygiene on AD after authors found worse sleep quality, more sleep problems and daytime sleepiness were associated with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers of amyloid deposition in combination with tau pathology, axonal degeneration, and neuroinflammation. The relationship between sleep and AD pathology was present in late midlife in the absence of cognitive impairment. The authors did not however find a relationship between CSF biomarkers and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea.

Writing in Neurology , the authors said, as effective strategies exist for improving sleep, sleep health may be a tractable target for early intervention to attenuate AD pathogenesis. “Many effective pharmaceuticals, devices, and behavioural interventions are already available in the clinic for improving sleep quality. Follow-up studies are needed to identify the aspects of sleep that are most amenable to modification and most effective in affecting AD pathology, to ultimately delay AD or diminish AD symptoms,” the authors said.

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