On 19 February 2020 , the scientific journal Plos One published a new study on the importance of good quality sleep. According to the publication, there is evidence that adequate sleep can prevent brain disease.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Barcelona Brain Health Initiative (BBHI) project, which was sponsored by the Institut Guttmann and La Caixa in Barcelona (Spain). They based it on information gathered through online surveys among volunteers between the ages of 40 and 65 who did not have a health problem related to the topic.
In total, they followed the sleep patterns of 4,500 people over the course of a year. Thus, they established that good quality sleep is essential to reduce the risk of suffering from neurological or neuropsychiatric diseases. They also confirmed that these diseases alter normal sleep.
Research on good quality sleep and its effects on brain diseases began in 2017 with 4,500 volunteers. Of these, 2353 continued to provide information for an entire year. Among the last, 73 had finally been diagnosed with new neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases.
The scientific director of research, Dr. Álvaro Pascual-Leone, emphasized the importance of a healthy lifestyle in his final report. The results from the study show that it is a crucial factor in maintaining good brain health. This is because little physical activity affects our sleep.
Similarly, Dr. Gabriele Cattaneo, one of the authors of the study, pointed out that women who do not sleep well have a higher risk of depression. The study also found a link between poor quality sleep and the presence of other diseases – such as hepatitis and hypertension.
Good quality sleep – a crucial factor
Let us make it clear that research from BBHI is not the first to address the relationship between sleep quality and the prevention of brain diseases. In April 2019, the experts at the XXVII National Congress of the Spanish Society of Neuroscience stated something similar.
During this event, the specialists discussed and debated the quality of sleep disorders and brain diseases. In their conclusions, they suggested that there is a lot of new evidence. That is, there may be a two-way relationship between sleep disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Of these pathologies, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease are the most common.
In addition, they confirmed that sleep problems in many cases appear several years before the first symptoms of dementia occur. Therefore, people should take this factor as a warning sign.
In turn , people with brain conditions worsen faster if they also have a sleep disorder, at least according to Dr. Sandra Giménaz Badia, a clinical neurophysiologist at the Hospital de la Santa Creu in Sant Pau, Barcelona. She provided some devastating information by saying that up to 70% of those who suffer from some form of dementia also have a sleep problem.
Sleep and Alzheimer’s disease
The Pasqual Maragall Foundation, which specializes in Alzheimer’s research , published a study in the journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy. It indicates that researchers, after analyzing 1638 people, concluded that those who had sleep disorders had a lower volume in the precuneus or posterior cingulate cortex area of the brain.
These areas of the brain participate in processes such as memory and intellectual performance. The first signs of worsening also appear there, mainly in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Similarly, they also found changes in the white matter of the brain. In addition, there were stronger effects of insomnia in carriers of the genetic variant APOE-ε4. In other words, this means that there is a link between insomnia and the risk of Alzheimer’s. The relationship is being researched even though the details are not yet known.
We can conclude that a person with poor quality sleep is prone to various health problems. Therefore, do not take insomnia, interrupted sleep and all variants of insufficient rest lightly. This is because some of these conditions require a professional consultation for detailed monitoring.