Sleep Deprivation and Alzheimer's Risk

The study published by the Researchers of the Washington University of the US published in the journal Science has found that sleep deprivation may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and worsens over time and it  is the cause of 60–70% of cases of dementia. As the disease advances, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and behavioural issues and gradually bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death.

Findings of the Study

The important findings of the study include:

  • Sleeplessness accelerates the spread of toxic clumps of tau through the brain. Tau is a harbinger of brain damage and a decisive step along the path to dementia.
  • Lack of sleep alone helps drive the disease and good sleep habits may help preserve brain health.
  • Tau is found in the brain even among the healthy people, but under certain conditions, it will clump together into tangles that injure nearby tissue and may lead to cognitive decline.
  • A sleepless night can result in increasing of the tau levels to rise by about 50 per cent.


Tau is a protein routinely released during waking hours by the normal business of thinking and doing, and then the release is decreased during sleep allowing tau to be cleared away. Sleep deprivation interrupts the normal cycle As a result, tau protein will build up and it is more likely that the Tau protein will start accumulating into harmful tangles.


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