NOTHING is more frustrating than not being able to sleep.
Tossing and turning until the early hours can leave you feeling exhausted and can even make you more prone to picking up bugs.
But now, researchers have discovered that not getting enough shut eye can also add to your risk of brain eating disease.
Those who sleep fewer than 7 hours each night could be advancing their risk of Alzheimer's disease.
The condition affects one in six people over the age of 80 and it is thought that around 850,000 people in total are suffering in the UK alone.
It accounts for just over one in every ten deaths in the UK (11 per cent), according to the Alzheimer's society.
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"The epidemiological and experimental data available to date already suggested that sleep abnormalities contribute to the risk of Alzheimer's disease," lead researcher, Laura Stankeviciute of Fundación Pasqual Maragall, Barcelona, said.
But the new study, published in Brain Communications, "further strengthen the hypothesis that sleep disruption may represent a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease," she added.
Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid – a liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord – of 332 participants found that those who had fewer than 7 hours sleep had increased levels of t-tau proteins.
Tau proteins are microtubes which transport nutrients from one part of the brain to another.
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Having too many tau proteins is thought be a driver of Alzheimer's disease.
Laura called for "further research" into ways to improve sleep so fewer cases arise in the future.
How much sleep should I be getting?
The NHS says “most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night” and everyone is different.
“What matters is that you find out how much sleep you need and then try to achieve it”, it says, adding that if you wake up tired and spend the day longing for a nap, you are not sleeping enough.
Some only need six hours sleep a night and the NHS says a “solid” sleep is what is essential for a “long and healthy life”.
“Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, coronary heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy,” the NHS warns.
Previous research has found that getting five or less hours sleep per night could put individuals at a higher risk of developing multiple chronic diseases such as heart disease, depression, cancer or diabetes.
Experts suggested people get between 7 and 8 hours a night.
Meanwhile, hormones used in menopause medication could help protect women from dementia and Parkinson's, experts have claimed.
Medics in the US said women should not be discouraged from taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as it could offer other benefits than just relief from the menopause.
The six early signs of Dementia
Dementia is an umbrella term for the deterioration of mental ability so severe that it impacts daily life, causing problems with memory, behaviour and coordination, to name a few.
There are several types, with Alzheimer’s being the most common and accounting for up to 80 per cent of all dementia cases.
The NHS says: “Different types of dementia can affect people differently, and everyone will experience symptoms in their own way.
“However, there are some common early symptoms that may appear some time before a diagnosis of dementia.”
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- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Finding it hard to carry out familiar everyday tasks, such as getting confused over paying at the supermarket and counting change
- Struggling to find the right words or finding it hard to follow a conversation
- Being confused about the time and where you are
- Mood changes
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