GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022 - 26

health
road, we are able to assess how sleep quality predicts
changes in beta-amyloid plaques across multiple
timepoints. In doing so, we can measure how quickly
this toxic protein accumulates in the brain over time,
which can indicate the beginning of Alzheimer's disease, "
said Winer, the study's lead author and a Ph.D.
student in Walker's Center for Human Sleep Science at
UC Berkeley.
In addition to predicting the time it is likely to take
for the onset of Alzheimer's, the results reinforce the
link between poor sleep and the disease, which is particularly
critical in the face of a tsunami of aging baby
boomers on the horizon.
While previous studies have found that sleep
cleanses the brain of beta-amyloid deposits, these
new findings identify deep non-REM slow-wave sleep
as the target of intervention against cognitive decline.
And though genetic testing can predict one's inherent
susceptibility to Alzheimer's, and blood tests offer
a diagnostic tool, neither offers the potential for a
lifestyle therapeutic intervention that sleep does, the
researchers point out.
" If deep, restorative sleep can slow down this disease,
we should be making it a major priority, " Winer
said. " And if physicians know about this connection,
they can ask their older patients about their sleep
quality and suggest sleep as a prevention strategy. "
How they conducted the study
The 32 healthy participants in their 60s, 70s and
80s who are enrolled in the sleep study are part of the
26 GRAND Winter 2022
Berkeley Aging Cohort Study headed by UC Berkeley
public health professor William Jagust, also a co-author
on this latest study. The study of healthy aging
was launched in 2005 with a grant from the National
Institutes of Health.
For the experiment, each participant spent an eighthour
night of sleep in Walker's lab while undergoing
polysomnography, a battery of tests that record brain
waves, heart rate, blood-oxygen levels and other
physiological measures of sleep quality.
Over the course of the multi-year study, the
researchers periodically tracked the growth rate of the
beta-amyloid protein in the participants' brains using
positron emission tomography, or PET scans, and
compared the individuals' beta-amyloid levels to their
sleep profiles.
"
Indeed, if we can bend the arrow
of Alzheimer's risk downward by
improving sleep, it would be a
significant and hopeful advance.
quality is a biomarker and predictor of disease down
the road.
Traveling into the future
" We know there's a connection between people's
sleep quality and what's going on in the brain, in
terms of Alzheimer's disease. But what hasn't been
tested before is whether your sleep right now predicts
what's going to happen to you years later, " Winer said.
" And that's the question we had. "
"
Researchers focused on the brain activity present
during deep slow-wave sleep. They also assessed the
study participants' sleep efficiency, which is defined as
actual time spent asleep, as opposed to lying sleepless
in bed.
The results supported their hypothesis that sleep
And they got their answer: " Measuring sleep effectively
helps us travel into the future and estimate
where your amyloid buildup will be, " Walker said.
As for next steps, Walker and Winer are looking at
how they can take the study participants who are at
high risk of contracting Alzheimer's and implement
methods that might boost the quality of their sleep.
" Our hope is that if we intervene, then in three or
four years the buildup is no longer where we thought it
would be because we improved their sleep, " Winer said.
" Indeed, if we can bend the arrow of Alzheimer's
risk downward by improving sleep, it would be a significant
and hopeful advance, " Walker concluded.
Click here for tips
to improve your sleep quality
In addition to Walker, Winer and Jagust, co-authors of the study
are Bryce Mander at UC Irvine, Samika Kumar and Mark Reed
at UC Berkeley, and Suzanne Baker at the Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory.
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GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022

Contents
GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022 - Cover1
GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022 - 2
GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022 - 3
GRAND Magazine - Spring 2022 - Contents
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