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Scientists have known for a while now that proper sleeping habits culminate in better health in the long run and that the opposite is also true where poor sleeping habits may cause health deterioration.

A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of California, Berkley, suggests that good quality sleep can be used as a prediction scale to determine when Alzheimer’s disease will manifest in people later in their lives. These are interesting findings because they can be used to encourage people to work towards better sleeping habits. For example, anyone with an Alzheimer’s predisposition can delay the disease by practicing better sleeping habits.

“We have found that the sleep you’re having right now is almost like a crystal ball telling you when and how fast Alzheimer’s pathology will develop in your brain,” stated Matthew Walker, a researcher involved in the study.

Mr. Walker also pointed out that the good thing about the study’s findings is that they point towards room for improvement. In this case, the focus on better sleeping habits. Good quality sleep is important because it is during deep sleep that the brain cleans itself of toxins that build up while awake.

How the study was conducted

Researchers evaluated the sleeping habits of 32 participants with their ages in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The study findings revealed that subjects with less non-rapid eye movement and more interrupted sleep have more beta-amyloid plaque in their brains. Beta-amyloid plaque accumulation is one of the key indicators of the onset of Alzheimer’s. Too much accumulation of this toxin compromises brain functions, and it destroys memory pathways in the brain.

Researchers also revealed that more than 40 million people across the globe are affected by Alzheimer’s. Scientists observed the beta-amyloid growth rate in the study participants and cross-referenced that information with their sleep profile over time. The patterns observed through the study allow researchers to come up with a rough estimate of when the poor sleep will eventually cause cognitive decline. Researchers are also working on ways to help individuals at a high risk of Alzheimer’s to achieve better sleep.