Even though multiple studies suggest daytime napping can be extremely beneficial, University of California San Francisco researchers say excessive amounts of it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a new study, conducted by the UCSF team, researchers examined the brains of 13 deceased individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. They measured the region of the brain linked with promoting wakefulness for signs of the disease. They compared their notes with seven people who did not have the medical condition.
The discovered people with Alzheimer’s disease have a buildup of tau, a type of protein, in the are of the brain that promotes wakefulness. The role of this protein help to form structures that work to move nutrients within nerve cells.
“In this particular study, we were curious if a specific network within the brain stem and subcortical regions are affected in Alzheimer’s disease. We found that the network, which [promotes] wakefulness, is obliterated in Alzheimer’s disease,” lead author of the study Joseph Oh, a staff research associate in the Grinberg Lab Memory and Aging Center at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at UCSF, told a news portal. Adding, “Our lab was interested in looking at early pathological changes in the human Alzheimer’s disease brains, focusing on the brain stem and subcortical regions."
Oh further explained: “These regions have been historically less focused on in Alzheimer’s disease research. However, we and several others have shown that these regions are highly involved in the disease pathogenesis,” he said.
The new findings back up previous research that found the brain of people who died with high levels of tau in the brain had experienced sleep disturbances and mood changes when they were alive. "I think the extent of substantial neuronal loss in the wake-promoting centres was very surprising and, in a way, frightening,” Oh told a news portal.Adding, “This is especially true because not just one type of neuron is affected, but an entire wake-promoting network.”
Further research is needed to fully understand the link.