Major Alzheimer’s Risk To Continued Sleep Deprivation

Written by Dr. Chris Smith, Updated on January 1st, 2024
Reading Time: 4 minutes

For the body and mind to function optimally, it's absolutely necessary to get enough sleep every night.

Though the underlying functions of sleep are still largely a mystery, we are continually learning more about how the body benefits from healthy rest, and we also learn more about the dangers of not getting enough sleep.

One particularly troubling study shows that inadequate sleep may contribute to Alzheimer's risk.

One of the central markers of Alzheimer's disease is the accumulation of Beta-Amyloid plaque. Beta-Amyloid is a byproduct of normal neurological processes.

While we are sleeping, the body has methods to eradicate this waste, but sleep deprivation hinders these essential clean-up processes. If Beta-Amyloid accumulates into neurological plaque, it harms inter-neural communication.

Measuring Beta-Amyloid Levels in Humans in Association with Sleep Deprivation

At this point, most of what we know about Beta-Amyloid accumulation is the result of animal testing in mice, but a recent study was developed to detect its effects on humans.

Constituents of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Prevention studied the brains of twenty healthy participants to break ground on the link between Beta-Amyloid accumulation and sleep deprivation.

Individuals ranged from 22-72 years of age and were monitored via PET Scan.

A significant advance in Alzheimer's research was the discovery that 18F-Florbetaben, a radiotracer, targets Beta-Amyloid, providing a reliable means to identify Beta-Amyloid concentrations in the brain and neurological system.

This study was published last month in the journal PNAS.

Comparing the Rested Brain to the Sleepless Brain

In this study, each subject had their brains scanned twice — once after a full night's rest, and once after around 31 hours of sleep deprivation.

After only a single all-nighter, participants experienced a 5% increase in Beta-Amyloid concentrations.

The two areas where Beta-Amyloid was found to accumulate most were in the Hippocampus and the Thalamus.

This is an important revelation because these two parts of the brain are strongly impacted by Alzheimer's Disease.

Researchers also discovered that mood was impacted based on the severity of Beta-Amyloid accumulation, meaning that even these relatively minor increases in Beta-Amyloid build-up led to dysfunction in the Thalamus and Hippocampus.

Both of these regions are strongly associated with conditions related to mood instability.

This study is exceptionally promising for the field of Alzheimer's Research, and it will also inevitably benefit many patients with sleep disorders because current evidence suggests that Beta-Amyloid Accumulation also contributes to sleep disorders.

Getting Good Rest is Important for Health — Other Health Issues Associated with Lack of Sleep

Most adults require 7-9 hours of restful sleep to maximize wellness. Not getting enough restful sleep can increase the risk of a wide variety of issues that can impair health and even increase mortality risk.

For one, you can get sicker easier if you don't get enough sleep. The body uses nightly rest as a means to bolster the immune system and fight off illness and infection.

The Alzheimer's study highlights the importance of sleep concerning mood. Individuals that don't get enough sleep are more likely to experience irritability, depression, and anxiety. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night is a substantial contributing factor to both depression and anxiety.

Sleep Deprivation and Metabolism

Not getting enough sleep can also cause you to gain weight since lack of sleep screws with the hormones associated with hunger and satiation.

Ghrelin concentrations increase, which increases feelings of appetite, and Leptin concentrations fall, which makes it take longer to feel full.

So lack of sleep makes you get hungry more often and tend to overeat when you get hungry.

Sleep also contributes actively to a healthy metabolism. Men and women that don't get enough sleep are more likely to have issues with Low Insulin Sensitivity and Type-2 Diabetes.

The symptoms of Sleep Deprivation on the body's metabolic processes share a strong resemblance to Insulin Resistance.

Sleep Deprivation and Heart Health

One of the most dangerous things about sleep deprivation, especially when you get older, is its impact on cardiovascular health.

If you don't get enough sleep, even for a single night, this can harm blood pressure and heart rate.

Furthermore, insufficient sleep increases inflammatory markers in the heart and cardiovascular system.

One study demonstrated that restless sleep increased Stroke/Heart Attack Risk by 18%, and issues falling asleep, increased risk by 27%. Sleep Apnea also compounds these risks.

If you believe that you are struggling with Sleep Apnea, there are Sleep specialists nationwide that can assist you in diagnosis and treatment.

Sleep Deprivation, Low-T, and Sex Drive

For men, Sleep Deprivation can have frustrating effects on sexual function. Hormones like Testosterone and HGH are produced in elevated concentrations while we sleep.

Any sleep disruptions that you experience can lead to problems related to Hormone Balance.

Also, poor sleep causes Cortisol Levels to rise, along with other stress hormones, which drains the body's ability to produce Testosterone.

If you've had trouble generating sexual interest in your partner, consider your sleeping habits. If you've been sleeping poorly, this could be the cause of your underlying sexual issues.


Lack of sleep may be linked to the risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease

Sleep deprivation increases Alzheimer’s protein

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