Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that, in mice, sleep deprivation increased levels of the key Alzheimer’s protein tau, a forerunner of brain damage and a step toward dementia.
These findings prove that good sleep habits may help preserve brain health.
Tau is normally found in the brain, even in healthy people. But in certain conditions it can clump together into tangles that injure tissue and cause cognitive decline. Recent research at the School of Medicine has shown that tau is high in older people who sleep poorly.
Researchers obtained cerebrospinal fluid from eight people after a normal night of sleep then again after they were kept awake all night. A sleepless night caused tau levels to rise by about 50 percent!
The researchers also found that disrupted sleep increased release of synuclein protein, a harbinger of Parkinson’s disease.
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