Oral snoring device can slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease

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Sleep Treatments | Sleep Review

A good night’s sleep plays an essential role in regulating brain health by removing waste and toxins that build up. Although many things can disrupt sleep, one of the most common causes is snoring or other breathing problems that cause obstructive sleep apnea. A team of researchers from the University of Texas’ Center for BrainHealth at Dallas and Texas A&M University tried to understand the relationship between breathing rate during sleep and cognitive function, and how a snoring intervention affects brain health.

The results were recently published in Geriatrics by the team that includes BrainHealth researcher Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, Chief Director; Namrata Das, PhD, MD, MPH, a research neuroscientist in Alzheimer’s disease; and Jeffrey Spence, PhD, director of biostatistics. Lead researcher Preetam Schramm, PhD, a visiting scholar at Texas A&M University, designed the intervention study and provided the sleep science expertise.

The team discovered that the maximum respiratory rate can be used to distinguish healthy individuals from those with mild cognitive impairments and those with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also found that using a dental device to reduce snoring improved cognitive function in those with mild cognitive impairment.

The team’s pilot study included 18 people aged 55 to 85 with a history of snoring. About a third of the participants had mild cognitive impairment and another third had Alzheimer’s. To study how respiratory rate relates to a person’s cognitive function, participants slept at home while portable recorders collected data on respiratory rate, heart rate, and snoring. Center for BrainHealth clinicians assessed the participants’ memory, executive function, and alertness.

The team found that the maximum breathing rate during uninterrupted sleep can differentiate healthy people from people with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment.

“We found three different patterns in the groups of people, which means we can look for a breathing pattern that could predispose people to dementia,” said Emet Schneiderman, PhD, study co-author and professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in Texas A&M University College of Dentistry, it said in a statement. Determining respiratory rate is cheaper and faster than other existing assessments for measuring a person’s cognitive function and could be an effective alternative to testing.

The researchers also looked at whether the myTAP device, which snaps into the mouth at night to prevent snoring, affects breathing rate and cognitive function. For four weeks, participants wore the device at night and snoring decreased. After the intervention phase, the cognitive function – especially in the area of ​​memory – no longer differed between healthy people and people with mild cognitive impairment. This suggests that better sleep improves cognition in those with mild cognitive impairment. “If we can make significant changes in people with mild cognitive impairments, we can slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Das, now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital.

Although the team didn’t notice an overall difference in cognitive functioning among participants with Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers hope the intervention might work. At the individual level, half of the participants with Alzheimer’s disease saw improvements in their cognitive function. “The neurogenesis of the brain is a slow process, so these people may need a longer period of time with the intervention to see significant cognitive changes,” notes Das.

Alternatives to drugs used to treat snoring, such as dental appliances, could help people sleep better and improve their cognitive functions. Sleep pills give the impression that you slept well when in reality the brain never goes into a deep sleep phase, which is essential for the household process to rid the body of toxins.

And it now appears that alternative treatments, like this dental appliance, could produce significant changes in cognition before mild cognitive impairment progresses to Alzheimer’s disease. “Oral devices could have a wide variety of uses because many different factors affect sleep in many different age groups,” says Das. “Perhaps devices could help people sleep better and reduce mental health symptoms caused by poor sleep before neurocognitive symptoms seriously subside.”



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