This very normal habit could be a symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease

This article was updated on August 12, 2021.

A report published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, posits that toxic clumps of a protein called tau might be what causes Alzheimer’s disease.

Frequent fatigue is one of the most identifiable consequences of this decay, even if researchers have yet to determine if atypical sleep patterns exacerbate risks or if the disturbed sleep was a neurological indicator of the early stages of dementia. But this could mean that frequent daytime napping could be an early indicator that you may develop this devastating disease.

Profound degeneration of neurons

Panelists from this year’s Alzheimer’s Association International conference presented an alternate method of identifying abnormal brain changes associated with cognitive decline via blood testing. Optimistically, these tests are designed to locate clumps of beta-amyloid proteins earlier in the condition’s devolvement than traditional Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Lead author Dr. Jun Oh, based at the Memory and Ageing Centre at UCSF, wrote in the study, “The three nuclei studied accumulate considerable amounts of tau inclusions and showed a decrease in neurotransmitter-synthetizing neurons in AD, PSP, and corticobasal degeneration. However, substantial neuronal loss was exclusively found in AD.”

Dr. Jun Oh and his team occasioned the same objective as the authors behind the recent beta-amyloid blood test report published in the journal of Neurology. The condition’s trajectory is maddened by how late it’s symptoms reveal themselves. In the nearly two decades it takes for cell damage to manifest in an overt lapse in memory — difficulty with speech, forgetting the year, etc. — the brain is most often several miles past the point wherein medication would be of any utility. If non-invasive tools of diagnosis can be aided by subtle, early predictors, experts might have a shot at reigning in the chaos.

Notable naps

Without notable nighttime sleep aberrations,  the new reports posit that excessive daytime napping might very well be one of the earliest neurogenerative markers of dementia, more discreetly, Alzheimer’s.  A post-modem analyst of 13 Alzheimer’s patients retrieved from the UCSF Neurodegenerative Disease Brain Bank.revealed that the three regions of the brain associated with wakefulness had lost 75% of their neurons.

“Our work shows definitive evidence that the brain areas promoting wakefulness degenerate due to accumulation of tau — not amyloid protein — from the very earliest stages of the disease,” commented study senior author Lea T. Grinberg, MD, PhD, an associate professor of neurology and pathology at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and a member of the Global Brain Health Institute and UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences to Science Daily.

The findings are published in the peer-reviewed journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia by lead author Lea Grinberg, professor of neurology at the University of California San Francisco.