Tuesday April 23, 2019

Study Reveals Poor Sleep Linked to Genetics

They also found that Restless Leg Syndrome is linked to poorer sleep from the genetic variants associated with sleep measures derived from the accelerometer data

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Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

Suffering from sleep disorder? Blame genetics. A new study has found several parts of our genetic code that could be responsible for poor sleep.

Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Exeter identified as many as 47 links between our genetic code and the quality and quantity of sleep.

Among the genomic regions discovered is a gene called PDE11A. The team found that an uncommon variant of this gene affects not only how long one sleeps but also the quality of sleep.

“This study identifies genetic variants influencing sleep traits, and will provide new insights into the molecular role of sleep in humans,” said lead author Samuel Jones from the University of Exeter.

Sleep deprivation can hurt performance and health. Wikimedia commons

“Changes in sleep quality, quantity and timing are linked to several human diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and psychiatric disorders,” added Andrew Wood from the varsity.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers looked at data from 85,670 participants of UK Biobank and 5,819 individuals from three other studies, who wore accelerometers-wrist-worn devices, which record activity levels continuously.

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They found that collectively, the genetic regions linked to sleep quality are also linked to the production of serotonin-a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Serotonin is known to play a key role in sleep cycles and is theorised to help promote deeper and more restful sleep.

They also found that Restless Leg Syndrome is linked to poorer sleep from the genetic variants associated with sleep measures derived from the accelerometer data. (IANS)

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Poor Sleep May Signal The Risk of Alzheimer’s in Elderly

For the study, the team studied 119 people aged 60 or older among which almost 80 per cent were cognitively normal and the remainder were very mildly impaired

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Poor sleep can predict Alzheimer's Risk in elderly. Pixabay

Poor sleep quality may signal the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults, a study suggests.

People with Alzheimer’s tend to wake up tired and their nights become even less refreshing as memory loss and other symptoms worsen.

However, the reason was not fully understood.

The study, led by the Washington University in St. Louis found that older adults who sleep poorly or have less slow-wave sleep — deep sleep needed to consolidate memories and wake up feeling refreshed — have higher levels of tau — a toxic brain protein.

Tau has also been linked to brain damage and cognitive decline.

“Measuring how people sleep may be a non-invasive way to screen for Alzheimer’s disease before or just as people begin to develop problems with memory and thinking,” said lead author Brendan Lucey, Assistant Professor from the varsity.

"The question for us now is not how to eliminate cholesterol from the brain, but about how to control cholesterol's role in Alzheimer's disease through the regulation of its interaction with amyloid-beta," Vendruscolo said.
In Alzheimer’s disease, patients start losing memory, Pixabay

Moreover, the findings, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that it was not the total amount of sleep that was linked to tau, but the slow-wave sleep, which reflects quality of sleep.

The people with increased tau pathology were actually sleeping more at night and napping more in the day, but they weren’t getting as good quality sleep.

“What’s interesting is that we saw this inverse relationship between decreased slow-wave sleep and more tau protein in people who were either cognitively normal or very mildly impaired, meaning that reduced slow-wave activity may be a marker for the transition between normal and impaired,” Lucey added.

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For the study, the team studied 119 people aged 60 or older among which almost 80 per cent were cognitively normal and the remainder were very mildly impaired.

Up to two decades before Alzheimer’s symptoms of memory loss and confusion appear, amyloid beta protein begins to collect into plaques in the brain. Tangles of tau appear later, followed by decline of key brain areas. Only then do people start showing unmistakable signs of cognitive decline.

The challenge is finding people on track to develop Alzheimer’s before such brain changes undermine their ability to think clearly. For that, sleep may be a handy marker, the researchers said. (IANS)