Alzheimer’s disease affects large portions of the elderly population, and the problem is only expected to get worse as more baby boomers get into that age demographic that includes most Alzheimer’s sufferers. It is a neurodegenerative disease in which brain cells progressively die to the point of an actual physical brain size shrinkage. Skout reported research has linked the onset and progression of this disease with the existence of a protein that forms a plaque on the brain. The protein is known as beta-amyloid and deposits of it exist on the brain of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
A new discovery has found that this toxic protein may also interfere with sleep and that this causes the disease to accelerate. Our cognitive function generally declines when we do not get sufficient sleep, and this protein is speeding up the process. We need to get a certain minimum amount of sleep each night to help us remember, and this may be interfering with that process. One promising thing is that sleep is a symptom that can be addressed. There are ways to help induce sleep, and if doing so may slow down the progression of the disease, then this would be a useful therapeutic approach. It is believed that sleep helps to decrease the amount of this protein build up. Any advancement against this disease is urgently needed as it will be consuming an exorbitant amount of health care costs over the next couple decades barring breakthroughs in preventing or effectively treating it.