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Sat, Dec. 07

Rosenberg: Connection between sleep and Alzheimer's

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Is it true that there is a relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease?

Answer: Yes. We are finding that conditions that shorten or fragment sleep can lead to an accumulation of the protein precursors of Alzheimer’s, such as amyloid and tau protein. This would include sleep apnea, insomnia, behaviorally induced insufficient sleep and circadian sleep disorders.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My 15-year-old son sleeps about 6 1/2 hours a night. He’s doing poorly in school and is always tired and grouchy. How much sleep should he be getting?

Answer: According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, eight to 10 hours is required by teenagers. Your son’s symptoms are classic for sleep deprivation. Recent studies show 70% of teenagers are getting less than that. I would start by educating your son and removing electronic devices from the bedroom. That can make a huge difference

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My husband has PTSD and he snores and stops breathing. I am trying to convince him that it would be a good idea to get checked out for sleep apnea. Is there anything you could add?

Answer: Yes, sleep apnea is very common in PTSD. The benefits of treatment include decreased nightmares, better-quality sleep and improved daytime symptoms. Sleep apnea disrupts sleep, and it is during sleep, especially REM sleep, that most of the emotional processing of prior emotional trauma is reconciled.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea about a year ago. I haven’t noticed any improvement in my fatigue or sleepiness. My husband says it is because I turn it off after about four hours and go back to sleep for another three. What do you think?

Answer: Although most insurers, like Medicare, require a minimum of four hours for them to pay for it, that is not sufficient. Most studies have shown significant improvement in sleepiness and fatigue with a minimum of six hours of use.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg, board-certified sleep medicine specialist, will answer readers’ questions by incorporating them in future columns. Contact him through the form at or via mail at the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, 3259 N. Windsong Drive, Prescott Valley, AZ 86314.

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