Ethics in Medicine

Better Sleep Helps to Mitigate Alzheimer's Disease

Kristen Sparrow • June 05, 2015

Became aware of this very recent study listening to Science Friday.  It features two issues, well even three that I’m deeply interested in.
1. Sleep.  I’ve done a number of blog posts and newsletters on the importance of sleep and some natural means to sleep better.
2. Electroceuticals.  The researcher, Matthew Walker from UC Berkeley suggested that in the future electrical stimulation may be a key to allowing better deep, non-REM sleep.
3. Stress and Alzheimer’s.  I’m interested in both topics and it looks like they may interact.
Neurosci. 2015 Jun 1. doi: 10.1038/nn.4035.

β-amyloid disrupts human NREM slow waves and related hippocampus-dependent memory consolidation.
Independent evidence associates β-amyloid pathology with both non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep disruption and memory impairment in older adults. However, whether the influence of β-amyloid pathology on hippocampus-dependent memory is, in part, driven by impairments of NREM slow wave activity (SWA) and associated overnight memory consolidation is unknown. Here we show that β-amyloid burden in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) correlates significantly with the severity of impairment in NREM SWA generation. Moreover, reduced NREM SWA generation was further associated with impaired overnight memory consolidation and impoverished hippocampal-neocortical memory transformation. Furthermore, structural equation models revealed that the association between mPFC β-amyloid pathology and impaired hippocampus-dependent memory consolidation was not direct, but instead statistically depended on the intermediary factor of diminished NREM SWA. By linking β-amyloid pathology with impaired NREM SWA, these data implicate sleep disruption as a mechanistic pathway through which β-amyloid pathology may contribute to hippocampus-dependent cognitive decline in the elderly.