Want some expert advice to improve your sleep? Get the free insomnia sleep training course!
- January 13, 2020 at 9:48 am #34969
titanicgwh✘ Not a client
In the past you have said that sleep deprivation does not lead to health problems which actually was a big relief for myself and reduced my anxiety when trying to fall asleep. Therefore I am wondering what your thoughts are on a new finding from a sleep study published online in the Jan. 8th journal Neurology.
Briefly, researchers found that, after just one sleepless night, a small group of healthy, young men had an accumulation of the tau protein in their brains. This protein is found in the brains of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s.
What are your thoughts on this finding?
January 13, 2020 at 10:49 am #34971
- This topic was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by titanicgwh.
delv-x✘ Not a client
Sleep deprivation has an affect on our mood and how we feel for sure. A lack of sleep can really play havoc with many things. In terms of Alzheimer’s, I believe much more research is needed. There is a link but which came first, the chicken or the egg? Could a symptom of early onset of Alzheimer’s be lack of sleep? Causation does not imply correlation.
Anyone with mental health or general health issues or concerns about their health will be impacted with some sleep disturbance.January 13, 2020 at 11:29 am #34974
Bob, I was a little bit concerned about this latest study, too. I know every research study has some flaws, but can we really discount every single one, especially when almost all seem to indicate some future health consequences? So it is concerning—-but it just makes me double up on other aspects of healthy living, like diet and exercise, that may cancel out any potential adverse effects of insomnia.
And until recently, all studies concluded that amyloid beta was responsible for Alzheimers—now it is tau, so who knows? Look how coffee fluctuates as being unhealthy/healthy—and fat, carbs, etc.January 13, 2020 at 5:12 pm #34977
Martin Reed★ Admin
My thoughts are this:
1. The study involved only 15 people — we can’t extrapolate the results of a study that involved 15 people to a worldwide population of close to 8 billion people.
2. Sleep deprivation is not insomnia. In other words, chronic insomnia is not the same as — and does not have the same effect on the body as — one night of complete and absolute sleep deprivation.
3. The study actually looked at five different biomarkers (t-tau, Aβ40, Aβ42, NfL, and GFAP). Only one out of five (t-tau) was found to be affected by one night of complete sleep loss. In the remaining four markers, no changes were seen.
A line in the article that I would like to draw particular attention to is this one: “The AD [Alzheimer’s disease] risk genotype rs4420638 did not significantly interact with sleep loss–related diurnal changes in plasma levels of Aβ40 or Aβ42.”
4. The biomarkers t-tau and β-amyloid (Aβ) are only associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Association is not causation.
5. The authors of the study fail to mention (or didn’t investigate) what happened to the increased levels of that one biomarker after participants were allowed to sleep after that single night of forced and absolute sleep deprivation.
6. The study only looked at biomarkers in blood, not the brain. As one of the study authors pointed out, “More research is needed to confirm that sleep deprivation increases tau in the brain, since levels in the blood aren’t necessarily indicative of those in the brain [and] higher blood levels of tau after sleep deprivation could be a sign that the brain is clearing out the protein rather than accumulating it”.
So, there is still no evidence that insomnia causes any health problem whatsoever. It’s so important to read beyond the headlines and to get into the nitty-gritty of these studies to see the bigger picture.
It’s probably even more helpful not to read them or look for them in the first place since all they do is increase sleep-related worry and anxiety.
I hope this helps!January 14, 2020 at 11:36 am #34990
Thanks, Martin. I no longer research sleep, but I do get suggested articles on a smart news feed and the other day when the newest article was posted about the tau in younger people over one sleepless night, it gave me pause for a second. Really appreciate your thoughtful detailed analysis and critique of the research. No point in voluntarily worry and anxiety, sleep-related or nonsleep-related!January 14, 2020 at 2:21 pm #34991
titanicgwh✘ Not a client
Thank you so much, Martin, for your detailed response! You have made me feel much better and less anxious now when trying to sleep. Your response #5 was my thought as well. If we have a good night’s sleep the next night after one night of no sleep, why wouldn’t our brains clean out the tau as it normally does. Your #6 makes sense as well. If tau is only found in the blood, our brains are possibly just in the process of removing it from our bodies.
Thanks delv-x and jazzcat22 for your quick responses also.