Iowa Sleep Blog

Why Sleep Is Necessary

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Why Sleep is Necessary by Steve Zorn, MD

Neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer disease) occur with increasing frequency as we age. The question recently raised is whether these degenerative conditions could be aggravated by a failure of the brain to clear the neurotoxic waste products that normally accumulate with nerve activity.

Alzheimer disease is associated with poor sleep and increased brain beta-amyloid (a neurotoxic waste product). Research has shown that insufficient sleep increases beta-amyloid. Could it be that poor sleep could accelerate the Alzheimer process? Scientists have recently discovered a brain "cleaning" system called the Glymphatic System. This system utilizes perivascular tunnels, formed by astroglial cells, to both eliminate waste proteins (like beta-amyloid), and facilitate distribution of nutrients such as glucose, lipids, amino acids, growth factors, and neuromodulators.
Intriguingly, the Glymphatic system functions best during sleep. Because the brain must enter sleep for efficient function, fragmented sleep (often found in Alzheimer disease) could increase neurotoxic accumulation and aggravate brain function.
Improving sleep may help to decrease the rate of downward deterioration in Alzheimer patients, or in those with an increased risk for Alzheimer disease (apolipoprotein E ε4 gene carriers).
The team at Iowa Sleep can help you improve your sleep and get you back on track for better sleep night after night. Contact us by phone at 515-225-0188.
Steve Zorn, MD is Boarded in Sleep, Pulmonary, and Internal Medicine. He is Medical Director of Iowa Sleep. Iowa Sleep has two clinics conveniently located to serve you in Ankeny and West Des Moines.