Poor Night Sleep May Increase Alzheimer's Risk: How To Get Better Sleep According To Scientists

Long periods of poor sleep can boost levels of proteins linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers of a new study have revealed.

Sleep And Alzheimer’s Disease

In the study published in the journal Brain, Yo-El Ju, from the Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues found evidence suggesting that quality sleep is crucial for helping the body clear away amyloid and tau.

The compounds are believed to cause Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic deprivation of quality sleep over long periods can raise the likelihood of amyloid and tau building up and cause the neurological disease.

“Slow wave activity disruption increases amyloid-β levels acutely, and poorer sleep quality over several days increases tau. These effects are specific to neuronally-derived proteins, which suggests they are likely driven by changes in neuronal activity during disrupted sleep,” the researchers wrote in their study.

The researchers said that while one bad night should not be a cause for worry, they stressed the importance of working to get better sleep at night. Besides Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, there are other health problems attributed to poor quality sleep.

A study published in May suggests that lack of sleep can cause the brain to cannibalize itself. Sleep problems are also tied to increased risk for diabetes in men, weight gain, and increased crash risk for drivers.

“We should all be working to sleep at the better end of our abilities, because it does seem to make a difference,” said Ju.

Getting Better Sleep

Scientific studies offer hints on how to get better sleep at night. A study published in the journal Sleep Science and Practice on Monday, July 10, showed that having a purpose in life is linked to less sleep disturbance.

Researchers found that people who felt that their lives have purpose tend to have better quality sleep compared with those who did not. They are also less likely to suffer from sleep apnea.

Experts frown on using sleeping pills to get sleep but researchers have suggested a safe and better alternative to sleep medications: exercise.

“There are more solid studies recently that looked at people clinically diagnosed with insomnia disorder, rather than self-described poor sleepers,” said Christopher Kline, from the University of Pittsburgh. “The results show exercise improves both self-reported and objective measures of sleep quality, such as what’s measured in a clinical sleep lab.”

Sleep experts also say that sticking to a sleep schedule, healthy diet, having a restful environment, and limiting daytime naps can boost a person’s chances of getting better sleep at night.

Exposure to Light May Help Prevent Malaria Mosquitoes to Bite at Night

Mosquito borne diseases have been a cause of concern, particularly in the recent years with malaria and dengue cases increasing alarmingly. While there are different safety measures that you can adopt to protect yourself from mosquito bites, it is a challenge because you need to be on constant alert. A surprising fact is that the mosquitoes are also adapting to the preventive measures we take, changing pattern. Insecticide-treated bed nets and walls do help prevent bites, but not all the time. Adults and children are vulnerable in the early evening and early morning hours when they are not under the nets or in the house.

In the case of Malaria mosquitoes, critical behaviours such as feeding, egg-laying and flying are time-of-day specific, including a greater propensity for night-time biting.

Exposure to Light May Help Prevent Malaria Mosquitoes to Bite at Night

“We need to discover new methods to address mosquito control and prevention. The systems and tools we currently have including global distribution and usage of insecticide-treated bed nets and spraying are not enough,” said Giles Duffield, Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, US.

The researchers have discovered a phenomenon that can effectively reduce bites and malaria. They found that exposure to just 10 minutes of light at night suppresses biting and manipulates flight behaviour of malaria mosquitoes. The findings, published in the journal Parasites and Vectors, suggests that light can be used to manipulate mosquitoes. For the study, Duffield and his team tested the mosquitoes’ preference to bite during their active host-seeking period by separating them into multiple control and test batches.

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Control mosquitoes were kept in the dark, while test batches were exposed to a pulse of white light for 10 minutes. Researchers then tested the propensity of the mosquitoes to bite immediately after the pulse and every two hours throughout the night, holding their arms to a mesh lining that allowed uninfected mosquitoes to feed while remaining contained.

 

Results indicated a significant suppression. In another experiment, mosquitoes were pulsed with light every two hours, and using this multiple pulse approach the team found that biting could be suppressed during a large portion of the 12-hour night.

 

“Most remarkable is the prolonged effect a short light treatment has on their preference to bite, with suppression lasting as long as four hours after the pulse. Pulses of light would probably be more effective than constant exposure, as the mosquitoes would be less likely to adapt to light presented in periodic doses. This may prove to be an effective tool that complements established control methods used to reduce disease transmission,” Duffield added.

 

The research team is testing the effectiveness of different wavelengths of light, such as red light, that would be less disturbing to adults and children while they sleep, with an aim towards developing field-applicable solutions.