Is sleep the secret to early Alzheimer's diagnosis?

Doctors could spot Alzheimer's years early by scanning your sleeping brain for tell-tale changes, study suggests Poor sleep has long been linked to higher risks of many disease, including Alzheimer's  As people age, the quality and amount of sleep they get tends to decline  New UC Berkeley research reveals that changes to two kinds of sleep brain waves are linked to the buildup of Alzheimer's plaques and tangles  The researchers think sleep analysis could allow doctors to identify people at risk for Alzheimer's and start preventive care years before the disease sets in

By Natalie Rahhal Deputy Health Editor For Dailymail.com

Published: 18:06 BST, 17 June 2019 | Updated: 18:06 BST, 17 June 2019

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Years of poor sleep can lead to changes in brain waves while you rest - and looking at those shifts in neural activity while you rest could help doctors diagnose Alzheimer's, new research suggests. 

While sleep's exact purpose is still a mystery to scientists, most suspect it serves as a nightly cleaning for the brain (among other functions). 

And even a single short night has been linked to higher levels of Alzheimer's-related plaques in the brain, suggesting that, without sleep, these toxic waste products don't get swept away. 

Now, University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) scientists have found that as we age, our 'sleep waves' get out of sync, which may cause two markers of Alzheimer's disease to collect in the brain. 

As we age, two forms of brain waves key to sleep fall out of sync and we have fewer of them. These changes may predict the development of Alzheimer's plaques and tangles (file)

As we age, two forms of brain waves key to sleep fall out of sync and we have fewer of them. These changes may predict the development of Alzheimer's plaques and tangles (file)

Lead study author Dr Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley and 'Sleep Diplomat', often warns that the US is in the midst of a 'sleep deprivation epidemic' - and that it's hurting our overall health. 

It's not recognized by the National Institutes of Health or the World Health Organization, but it's certainly a common problem. 

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