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Sleep-deprived Aussies at risk of Alzheimer’s

Health Industry Hub | March 16, 2020 |

New research linking just one night’s lost sleep to increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease highlights the urgent need for Australians to improve their sleep hygiene.

The research, recently published in Neurology Journal, reinforces the strong link between lack of sleep and increased levels of the tau protein, known to play a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s – a progressive, neurodegenerative disease, that accounts for up 70% of dementia cases.

More than one in three Australians don’t reach the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night, with 85 per cent waking up to three times during the night.

According to GenesisCare Thoracic physician and Sleep expert, Dr Justin Hundloe, Brisbane, sleep deprivation can have serious long-term effects on our overall health.

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“Sleep plays a vital role in brain health and cognitive function. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to long-term health effects, including early ageing and increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

“Lack of sleep can also have significant consequences on our physical health, with higher rates of heart disease, obesity and cancer seen in those who regularly do not get enough sleep,” said Dr Hundloe.

“In the short-term, lack of sleep can cause memory loss, anxiety and reduced concentration. Alarmingly, after 24 hours of no sleep, hand-to-eye coordination is similar to having a blood alcohol content of 0.1, increasing risk of road accidents or workplace injuries.”

Slow wave sleep, predominantly occurring during the first three hours of the night, is the deepest stage of sleep. Rapid eye movement sleep (REM) occurs later in the night and is associated with vivid dreams. Sleep changes throughout the night in cycles of about 90 minutes, with very brief, intermittent awakenings that most people won’t remember.

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