Almost every week, I come across another study that links poor sleep or sleep apnea to dementia. Here’s a paper that shows that sleep deprivation increases beta amyloid production. Beta amyloid plaques are what accumulates in dementia and alzheimer’s disease, and is the current hot topic in Alzheimer’s research.
This paper showed that chronic intermittent hypoxia increases beta amyloid production in the hippocampus, and that giving melatonin eliminated this amyloid plague buildup. Melatonin is a critical brain hormone that regulates sleep. Hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, is one of the hallmarks of obstructive sleep apnea.
Lastly, this landmark study showed that having sleep-disordered breathing was found to be significantly associated with developing mild cognitive impairment or demential.
Researchers are finally waking up to the fact that sleep apnea may be an important aspect of dementia and that amyoid plaque buildup may be just a marker of poor sleep, rather than being the cause of dementia.