With the increase in sources of information, it is particularly easy to know more about any sphere of life. You may now look up the recipe of your favorite food or look for new cafes or restaurants nearby using just your phone.
It takes less than a minute and then you have different blogs, news sites, and even research journals to help you out with your query. However, despite all these facilities, many people tend to believe old myths and incorrect ‘facts’ they heard while growing up or are widespread in the society in general.
The majority of such false information is related to health. You may have heard some of the most bizarre things while growing up. You will most probably find out that stuff such as eating onions will keep bugs away from you was all untrue.
But you may not know some of the things you believe are also not true – especially the myths connected with aging. For example, Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia are commonly believed to be a ‘normal’ part of growing old.
There are many studies that have debunked this myth and shown otherwise such as the recent study published in the journal Translational Medicine. What’s new about this research?
The findings of this study have identified a new symptom which is related to abnormality of a specific protein in the brain.
The researchers have suggested that inability to fall into a deep sleep or lack of sleep, precisely, is an early sign of development of Alzheimer’s disease. The reason for this was seen to be an elevated level of a protein known as tau.
Read the research here.
How Was the Research Conducted?
Getting enough sleep is necessary to help the body heal and function smoothly. Deep sleep or slow-wave sleep is needed each night in order to improve the memory and to wake up fresh as well as with stable energy levels.
To study this link between lack of slow-wave sleep and the development of Alzheimer’s disease, a group of 119 people who were all over the age of 60 was recruited. Around 80% of these participants had no issues with their cognitive abilities while others only had minor issues.
After the recruitment, the researchers then observed the sleep patterns and quality of these participants at their homes for a week. Each of them was given a portable electroencephalogram or an EEG which monitors the brain waves during sleep.
Secondly, the participants were also asked to keep a record of how much they slept during the night as well as the day.
On the other hand, the researchers themselves studied amyloid beta and tau in the brain and in the cerebrospinal fluid found around the brain and spinal cord. To do this, spinal taps and PET brain scans were conducted.
What Did the Researchers Find?
After observing the participants for a week, the researchers found that people who got less of slow-wave sleep had increased levels of tau in their bain as well as a higher tau-to-amyloid ratio in their cerebrospinal fluid.
The team then cleared that the development of Alzheimer’s and elevated levels of tau had nothing to do with the amount of sleep. The key is to focus on the lack of ‘good’ or slow-wave sleep which is necessary for performing many brain functions.
However, the researchers also agree that for now, observing sleep patterns cannot be used as an alternative to the conventional Alzheimer’s disease to look out for its development. Further investigation is required but this can also help doctor diagnose the disease in its early onset.