Those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease — a progressive brain disease which slowly destroys not only memory, but also thinking skills — might benefit from sleeping longer, or so a new study conducted on fruit flies suggests.
In the study, which was published in the journal Current Biology, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine disabled a gene in fruit flies, whose brains regulate sleep in a manner similar to humans, in order to induce memory problems.
One of the groups of flies experienced a memory condition reminiscent of Alzheimer’s disease after researchers disabled the gene. In another group, the flies exhibited problems establishing brain connections which encode memories. In yet another group, the insects had too many of the aforementioned brain connections.
The study’s lead author Stephane Dissel, PhD, was quoted by Medical News Today as having said that while sleep proved incapable of restoring the missing gene disabled the team of researchers, it did find “ways to work around the physiological problem.”
In all of these flies, the lost or disabled gene still does not work properly (…) Sleep can’t bring that missing gene back, but it finds way to work around the physiological problem.
Paul Shaw, PhD, a professor of neurobiology at the Washington University School of Medicine who was involved in the study, was quoted by Medical News Today as having said their “data showed that extra sleep can handle any of these” memory problems, but it must “be the right kind of sleep, and we’re not sure how to induce this kind of slumber in the human brain yet, but our research suggests that if we can learn how, it could have significant therapeutic potential.”
The study’s findings indicated that an extra three to four hours of sleep each day is enough to restore memories in a matter of just a couple of days, KMPH Fox 26 reported.
In an unrelated study presented last month at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in San Diego, as little as 30-minutes of lost sleep was linked to weight gain.