Up at Night? Is it a Sign of Early Alzheimer’s?

By Pamela Atwood, MA, CDP, CLL, Director of Dementia Care Services

Research reported earlier this week suggests a possible link between poor sleep and amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The report in the well-respected Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Neurology has been referred to in many print and electronic venues – and with misleading assumptions. We wanted our readers to be sure to review research CAREFULLY. Keep in mind:

  1. This is a study of 145 people.

  2. It suggests a CORRELATION between sleep and increased proteins (the 145 did not have Alzheimer’s, but have higher levels of protein – which is NOT a diagnosis but “preclinical AD”).

  3. Correlation does NOT mean cause.

  4. Some venues correctly point out that if you have problems sleeping you should NOT worry that you might have the early-stages of AD. There are many reasons one might have problems sleeping – and many people with AD sleep well every night.

  5. All research needs to be scrutinized carefully (Who paid for it? Was there good science behind it? What other variables might have contributed to the findings?) and repeated by independent teams.

There was also a research study reporting a link between problems sleeping and weight gain.  We can all figure out that while sleepiness may weaken our resolve to stick to healthy habits, it’s generally food and lack of exercise that CAUSES weight gain.  Don’t lose sleep about this AD study folks. Rest assured that more research needs to be done before we will know the cause and cure for AD. Contact YOUR DEMENTIA EXPERTS at Hebrew Health Care today for more information about research and the risk factors that may lead to dementia –email patwood@hebrewhealthcare.org or call 860-920-1810.

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