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Posts tagged ‘Bad sleep’

Bad sleep ‘dramatically’ alters body

Sleep

A run of poor sleep can have a potentially profound effect on the internal workings of the human body, say UK researchers.

The activity of hundreds of genes was altered when people’s sleep was cut to less than six hours a day for a week.

Writing in the journal PNAS, the researchers said the results helped explain how poor sleep damaged health.

Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor brain function have all been linked to substandard sleep.

What missing hours in bed actually does to alter health, however, is unknown.

So researchers at the University of Surrey analysed the blood of 26 people after they had had plenty of sleep, up to 10 hours each night for a week, and compared the results with samples after a week of fewer than six hours a night.

More than 700 genes were altered by the shift. Each contains the instructions for building a protein, so those that became more active produced more proteins – changing the chemistry of the body.


How to get a better night’s sleep

A man yawning

SourcesMental Health Foundation and BBC Science

Discover what disturbs your sleep the most

Meanwhile the natural body clock was disturbed – some genes naturally wax and wane in activity through the day, but this effect was dulled by sleep deprivation.

Prof Colin Smith, from the University of Surrey, told the BBC: “There was quite a dramatic change in activity in many different kinds of genes.”

Areas such as the immune system and how the body responds to damage and stress were affected.

Prof Smith added: “Clearly sleep is critical to rebuilding the body and maintaining a functional state, all kinds of damage appear to occur – hinting at what may lead to ill health.

“If we can’t actually replenish and replace new cells, then that’s going to lead to degenerative diseases.”

He said many people may be even more sleep deprived in their daily lives than those in the study – suggesting these changes may be common.

Dr Akhilesh Reddy, a specialist in the body clock at the University of Cambridge, said the study was “interesting”.

He said the key findings were the effects on inflammation and the immune system as it was possible to see a link between those effects and health problems such as diabetes.

The findings also tie into research attempting to do away with sleep, such as by finding a drug that could eliminate the effects of sleep deprivation.

Dr Reddy said: “We don’t know what the switch is that causes all these changes, but theoretically if you could switch it on or off, you might be able to get away without sleep.

“But my feeling is that sleep is fundamentally important to regenerating all cells.”

BBC – http://goo.gl/skN0S

Bad sleep may predict Alzheimer’s, says study

Man sleeping
Is there a link between sleeping patterns and dementia?

Problems sleeping may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s if a study in mice also applies to people, say researchers.

Clumps of protein, called plaques, in the brain are thought to be a key component of the illness.

A study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that when plaques first developed, the mice started having disrupted sleep.

Alzheimer’s Research UK argued that if the link was proven it could become a useful tool for doctors.

The hunt for early hints that someone is developing Alzheimer’s is thought to be crucial for treating the disease.

People do not show problems with their memory or clarity of thought until very late on in the disease. At this point, parts of the brain will have been destroyed, meaning treatment will be very difficult or maybe even impossible.

‘Detectable sign’It is why researchers want to start early, years before the first symptoms.

If sleep abnormalities begin this early in the course of human Alzheimer’s disease, those changes could provide us with an easily detectable sign of [the disease]”

Prof David Holtzman

One large area of research is in plaques of beta amyloid which form on the brain.

Levels of the beta amyloid protein naturally rise and fall over 24 hours in both mice and people. However, the protein forms permanent plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.

Experiments at Washington University showed that nocturnal mice slept for 40 minutes during every hour of daylight. However, as soon brain plaques started to form the mice were sleeping for only 30 minutes.

One of the researchers, Prof David Holtzman, said: “If sleep abnormalities begin this early in the course of human Alzheimer’s disease, those changes could provide us with an easily detectable sign of [the disease].”

“If these sleep problems exist, we don’t yet know exactly what form they take, reduced sleep overall or trouble staying asleep or something else entirely.”

However, findings in mice do not always apply to people as there are many reasons for disrupted sleep.

Dr Marie Janson, from the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, called for more studies in people to see if there was a link between sleeping patterns and Alzheimer’s.

She added: “There has already been research linking changes in sleep patterns to a decline in thinking skills, but these results suggest that disrupted sleep may also be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s.

“If research confirms specific sleep changes as a possible early marker of Alzheimer’s, it could prove a useful strategy for doctors to identify patients at risk of the disease.”

BBC

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