Sleep quality affects the risk of Alzheimer's more than the duration of sleep

Sleep quality affects the risk of Alzheimer's more than the duration of sleep

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How does the quality of sleep affect Alzheimer's?

Some experts claim that people need eight hours of sleep at night to prevent health problems and disease. However, a recent study has now shown that sleep quality apparently has a greater impact on health than the hours slept.

The University of Rochester Medical Center scientists found that our sleep quality has a significant impact on our health and even affects the risk of developing Alzheimer's. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Science Advances".

Deep sleep is good for cleaning the brain

The tests on mice showed that the animals who slept less hours but had better sleep quality were less at risk of developing dementia compared to mice with longer sleep and poorer sleep quality. Sleep is critical to the brain's waste disposal system. The deeper the sleep, the better this system seems to work. With the current findings, it is becoming increasingly clear that sleep quality and sleep deficiency can predetermine the development of Alzheimer's and dementia.

What is the glyphphate system?

The study builds on previous research by study author Dr. Nedergaard, who dealt with the so-called glyphphate system, the unique process of the brain that helps remove waste during sleep. Dementia is related to plaque buildup in the brain. A poorer functioning of the waste disposal of the brain could make this condition worse, the scientists explain. Our sleep is divided into different phases. The experts found that a deep so-called non-REM sleep is optimal for the function of the glymphatic system.

Special combination of active ingredients improves the function of the glyphatic system

In the current study, the researchers carried out experiments with mice that were anesthetized with six different combinations of active substances. While the animals were under sedation, the physicians monitored brain electrical activity, cardiovascular activity, and the cerebrospinal fluid purification flow. They found that a combination of the drugs ketamine and xylazine causes slow and steady electrical activity in the brain and a slow heart rate that comes closest to the patterns of deep non-REM sleep. And the electrical activity in the brain of mice given such a combination appeared to be optimal for the function of the glymphatic system.

It becomes more difficult to achieve deep non-REM sleep in old age

It is known that deep non-REM sleep becomes more difficult to achieve with age, and the study underlines the importance of deep sleep for the proper functioning of the glyphatic system. The experts said that the results also show that the glymphatic system can be manipulated by improving sleep. A finding that could indicate possible clinical approaches, such as sleep treatment or other methods to improve the sleep quality of high-risk patients.

Treatment of cognitive impairment after anesthesia

Doctors added that the study also provides insight into the cognitive difficulties that older patients often have after surgery, and suggests classes of drugs that could be used to avoid the problem. Mice in the study who were exposed to anesthetics that did not induce slow brain activity showed decreased glymphatic activity. This could be related to cognitive impairment after anesthesia, which remains a major problem to this day. A significant percentage of older patients undergoing surgery experience a postoperative delirium or cognitive impairment upon discharge. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Sleep deprivation and memory problems. Robbert Havekes. TEDxDenHelder (January 2023).