The early bird gets the worm. Also, Alzheimer’s.
That’s what a new study out of Imperial College London suggests. A team of scientists discovered that a significantly higher risk of getting the disease was associated with waking up early.
The team studied over 500,000 people and monitored their sleeping patterns. That data was analyzed using the participant’s genetic data to determine the likelihood of neurodegenerative diseases.
It turns out that people who have double the genetic risk for Alzheimer’s were 1% more likely to describe themselves as morning people are were also more likely to report sleeping less often.
The scientists put emphasis on the fact that sleeping patterns don’t cause Alzheimer’s. Rather, they believe that sleeping patterns could be an early indicator for the disease even though they aren’t a direct cause. This is because the genes that are associated with poor sleep are the same as the ones that predispose people to get dementia.
‘We found that those who genetically are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to be morning people. But we did not find any effect of sleep traits on the risk of Alzheimer’s,’ said Dr. Abbas Dehghan, one of the study’s authors.
‘We had seen that people experience sleep disorders prior to the occurrence of the disease, but were unsure if they were causing it or were early warning signs.
‘This study provides evidence against the first scenario. Further studies need to be done to evaluate the second scenario,’ Dehghan concluded.
‘This research shows a small link between different sleep patterns and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, but did not find any evidence for sleep disturbance causing the disease,’ said Dr. Sara Imarisio, research chief at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
‘Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing and more evidence on the complex topic of sleep is needed before we can make a judgment on its impact on dementia risk.’
This research is similar to a study that was just conducted in Italy by Michele Bellesi from the Marche Polytehnic University showing that sleep-deprived brains actually start destroying healthy neurons.