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A recent study at the University of California, Irvine suggests that sleep disturbances in the body’s night and day schedule may lead to chemical changes in the brain which, in turn, become a central component in the learning and memory losses associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The study results are posted on line in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Gregory Brewer, UCI biomedical engineering professor, through research conducted on mice has provided the initial evidence that circadian rhythm-altering sleep disruptions, akin to jet lag, promote memory issues and chemical changes in the brain. People with Alzheimer’s disease frequently have difficulty with sleeping or may have changes in their sleep schedule. The cause for these disturbances is presently unknown.

 Ultimately, clinical application of the information gained from Professor Brewer’s study could result in more attention being shown to managing the sleep patterns of those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease as well as those with mild cognitive impairment.

“The issue is whether poor sleep accelerates the development of Alzheimer’s disease or vice versa,” quoted Brewer, who’s affiliated with UCI’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders. “It’s a chicken-or-egg dilemma, but our research points to disruption of sleep as the accelerator of memory loss.” Brewer went on to add that “This study suggests that clinicians and caregivers should add good sleep habits to regular exercise and a healthy diet to maximize good memory.”

UCI News, Irvine, California, October 28, 2015