Lack of sleep increases Alzheimer’s risk

Lack of sleep increases Alzheimer’s risk

Research from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that lack of sleep increases Alzheimer’s risk, because sleep is when the brain gets rid of toxic waste.

Sleep deprivation has become an epidemic. The National Health Interview Survey shows that: “Nearly 30% of adults reported an average of ≤6 hours of sleep per day in 2005-2007. In 2009, only 31% of high school students reported getting at least 8 hours of sleep on an average school night.”

The waste removal system that works during sleep is called the glymphatic system, and it works very similar to the lymphatic system, which removes cellular waste substances.

The lymphatic system, however, does not include the brain. The brain is a closed system, as it is protected by the blood-brain barrier.

The glymphatic system works by hitching a ride on the blood vessels in the brain. The system pumps spinal fluid through the brain, which flushes out toxins that then travel into the circulatory system and get eliminated by the liver.

The glymphatic system works the hardest during sleep, allowing the brain to remove toxins including amyloid-beta plaque, which is strongly linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

During sleep, the glymphatic system becomes 10 times more active. The brain cells also shrink by about 60 percent, which makes waste removal even more efficient.

As noted in TIME: “Sleep, the experts are recognizing, is the only time the brain has to catch its breath. If it doesn’t, it may drown in its own biological debris… [Sleep researcher Dr. Sigrid] Veasey is learning that brain cells that don’t get their needed break every night are like overworked employees on consecutive double shifts–eventually, they collapse.

Working with mice, she found that neurons that fire constantly to keep the brain alert spew out toxic free radicals as a by-product of making energy. During sleep, they produce antioxidants that mop up these potential poisons.

But even after short periods of sleep loss, ‘the cells are working hard but cannot make enough antioxidants, so they progressively build up free radicals and some of the neurons die off…’

The consequences of deprived sleep, says Dr. Mary Carskadon, professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University, are scary, really scary.”

The study showing that lack of sleep increases Alzheimer’s risk was published the journal Science.

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REFERENCES:
1. “Scientists Discover Previously Unknown Cleansing System in Brain.” University of Rochester Medical Center. University of Rochester Medical Center, 15 Aug. 2012. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.
2. “Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain.” American Association for the Advancement of Science. Science, 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.
3. “Lack of Sleep Promotes Alzheimer’s Disease.” Mercola.com. Mercola.com, 2 Apr. 2015. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.
4. “The Power of Sleep.” Time. Time, 11 Sept. 2014. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.

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