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Self-reported sleep disturbances linked to higher risk for Alzheimer’s in men

2014-10-28

In a new study, researchers from Uppsala University demonstrate that elderly men with self-reported sleep disturbances run a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than men without self-reported sleep disturbances. The results are published in the scientific journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

The researchers followed more than 1,000 men, who were initially 50 year old, between the years 1970 and 2010. The results of the study show that self-reported sleep disturbances were linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease during the 40-year follow-up period, particularly if they occurred late in life. The data suggest that a regular good night’s sleep could support brain health in men.

‘We demonstrate that men with self-reported sleep disturbances run a 1.5-fold higher risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without reports of sleep disturbances during a 40-year follow-up period. The later the self-reported sleep disturbance was found the higher the risk was for developing Alzheimer’s disease. These findings suggest that strategies aimed at improving sleep quality in late life may help reduce the risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease’, says Christian Benedict, sleep researcher at Uppsala University, who led the study.

‘Importantly, there are several lifestyle factors, such as exercise, that can influence your brain’s health. Thus, it must be borne in mind that a multifaceted lifestyle approach comprising good sleep habits is essential for maintaining brain health as you age’, says Christian Benedict.

In an earlier article published in the journal Sleep, Christian Benedict and colleagues showed that a single night of total sleep deprivation increased blood concentrations of brain molecules in young men that typically rise in blood upon acute brain damage.

Benedict C et al. Self-reported sleep disturbance is associated with Alzheimer's disease risk in men. Alzheimer’s & Dementia (in press).

Christian Benedict’s sleep research is primarily supported by the Swedish Brain Foundation (Hjärnfonden) and Novo Nordisk Foundation.