Sleep Has a Significant Impact on Neurological Disorders

Sleep problems are a common symptom of neurological illnesses such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. In addition to raising their quality of life, getting more sleep is essential for a healthy brain and may lower their chance of developing various neurological problems.

President of the ANA and Arthur Knight Asbury Frances E. Jensen says the atmosphere of the twenty-first century is hostile to regular, healthful sleep. A neurological problem can worsen due to artificial light, extreme anxiety, or social media.

Anything that affects the brain can affect sleep and vice versa. It's important to focus on how we can improve sleep at any age because it doesn't just keep you healthy, it can be a great armor to prevent disease.

- Jensen

Sleep is disrupted by neurological illnesses such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, frontotemporal dementia, REM sleep disturbance, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. However, the specific mechanism differs across the conditions.

Disturbed sleep might worsen issues related to the particular illness. In addition to assisting those with neurological problems, concentrating on obtaining enough sleep may lower one's chance of developing them.

A routine for going to bed and waking up, making sure the bedroom is dark and all the lights are off, and making sure the bedding is comfy are a few suggestions made by neurologists for getting a good night's sleep.

Children with ASD need sleep for healthy brain development

Based on information being presented during the sleep symposium, consistent routines and techniques can help children with ASD get better sleep, which improves their executive function, performance on working memory tasks, and daytime behavior, so they are less irritable, less aggressive, and have fewer meltdowns during therapy.

Compared to 20% to 30% of children with neurotypical development, more than half of children and adolescents with ASD have serious sleep issues. The sleep necessary for a young brain's healthy growth, including memory, learning, and social and emotional development, is disrupted by problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or obstructive sleep apnea.

ASD can stop people from falling asleep by unduly stimulating their brains and interfering with melatonin's regular processing. In addition to other physical and mental health issues and prescription drugs they are taking, genetics might also be a factor.

Several preliminary studies presented at the conference say getting too little sleep often increases the likelihood of the brain acquiring abnormalities resembling Alzheimer's disease. Insufficient sleep hastens changes in the brain, such as the accumulation of tau tangles and amyloid beta plaques.

Part of the reason that poor sleep might increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease is related to changes to immune cells in the brain called microglia.

- David Holtzman, Scientific Director of the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders

These cells are being investigated as a possible target for novel illness therapeutics. While researchers do not know why Alzheimer's disease impairs sleep, the underlying pathology appears to damage several brain areas that govern rest.

It has been demonstrated that individuals in their late 40s who are cognitively sound and obtain low and high amounts of sleep decline quicker than those who get the intermediate ranges of sleep, adds Holtzman.

He concludes: "This suggests that there is an optimal range of sleep for each person that is associated with better performance over time."


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