Get Your Sleep -- or Diabetes, or Maybe Even Alzheimer's or Parkinson's

We all know sleep deprivation (SD) can lead to fuzzy thinking, traffic accidents, even weight gain.  But did you know scientists are now finding that it can cause us to age, and maybe even develop diabetes and other serious diseases, as well?

A new study has looked at how our organs are affected by SD, which sometimes may even lead to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's in the elderly, who often suffer from disrupted sleep.  

The findings suggest that "inadequate sleep in the elderly, who normally experience sleep disturbances, could exacerbate an already-impaired protective response to protein misfolding that happens in aging cells," according to

Protein misfolding -- a process where proteins get degraded -- and clumping is what is associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, along with many other diseases, the Web site reports. 

“The combined effect of aging and sleep deprivation resulted in a loss of control of blood sugar reminiscent of pre-diabetes in mice,” quotes Nirinjini Naidoo, Ph.D., research associate professor in the Division of Sleep Medicine, who learned this in a study done five years ago. Naidoo was senior author of this latest study.

The team examined tissues in mice for cellular stress following acute SD, and they also looked for cellular stress in aging mice. "Their results show that both age and SD combine to induce cellular stress in the pancreas," notes.

Pancreas tissue from acutely sleep-deprived aged animals exhibited a marked increase in a protein associated with cell death, suggesting the elderly may have an inability to adjust to cellular stress with age that was amplified by sleep deprivation, researchers found.

Sleep disorders can also put you at risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and other potentially deadly diseases, according to Camille Peri at  


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