Study says losing one night’s sleep may increase risk factor for Alzheimer’s

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A missed night of sleep is a fairly common experience for young people, new parents, and all kinds of busy adults.

While sometimes it can be fun, the end result of a sleepless night is the same: Your body has been deprived of an essential component for good health and energy.

Now, researchers are finding another impact from lack of sleep. A small study suggests that just one sleepless night may increase a protein linked to Alzheimer’s.

Swedish researchers studied 15 healthy men who were deprived of sleep for a single night.

The scientists found that the levels of tau in their blood increased by 17 percent. This is compared to the two percent increase of the protein following a good night’s sleep.

Tau is a protein that helps stabilize the internal makeup of brain nerve cells. People with Alzheimer’s disease have an accumulation of it in their brains.

However, the scientists stress that they do not know what the higher levels of tau in the blood mean in the context of sleep loss.

They also say that since they only observed sleep loss in young men, the results may be different in women and older people.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, most adults do best with between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, but nearly 30 percent get less than six, and some occasionally miss a night entirely, resulting in a slow accumulation of sleep debt that can affect your appearance, your immune system and even the way your brain functions.