Poor sleep can increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a new study says.mikecogh/Flickr

Poor sleep can increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a new study says.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US reported in the October issue of JAMA Neurology that sleep deprivation caused larger accumulation of beta-amyloid on the brain- the toxic proteins responsible for Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease is a brain disease that leads to the destruction of memory and other important functions of the brain including thinking, communication and behaviour. It is one of the most common causes of dementia. According to Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation in the US, someone in the world develops Alzheimer's disease in every 68 seconds.

Sound sleep has a crucial role in the mental, physical and emotional health of adults and children. The importance of getting a goodnight's sleep to remain fit and fine is well known. Previous studies have shown that short sleep durations increased the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart problems, depression and affected memory and concentration.

Providing more evidence on the importance of sleep, a team of scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center in the US reported last week that sleep played a major role in clearing toxins and wastes from the brain. The researchers conducted experiments on mice and found that the glymphatic system (the unique cleansing system of the brain) was 10 times more active during sleep, thus helping to avoid the accumulation of cellular waste products, including amyloid-beta.

The current study included 70 individuals with an average age of 76. All the participants were enrolled in the neuro-imagining sub-study of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.

For the analysis, researchers collected information about the sleep habits of the participants. Brain scans were used to examine the accumulation of β-Amyloid. They found that shorter sleep duration was directly associated with greater β-Amyloid deposition.

"Our study found that among older adults, reports of shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with higher levels of β-Amyloid measured by PET scans of the brain," lead author of the study, Dr. Adam Spira, an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Mental Health, said in a news release. "These results could have significant public health implications as Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, and approximately half of older adults have insomnia symptoms."

Excessive cleanliness, ageing, going through head trauma, family history of the disease, genetic mutations, severe stress in the middle age, unhealthy lifestyle including smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise are some other well-known factors that increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.