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Amyloid beta plaques accumulate outside of neurons and disrupt synapses, which are the connections between neurons that are formed and allow neurons to communicate with each other. In Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid beta levels are estimated to be ~43% higher in affected individuals relative to healthy age-matched adults.
Sleep activates one of the main systems that clean out amyloid beta plaques, called the glymphatic system. Future studies need to determine whether “catch-up sleep” can help ameliorate some of the negative effects that sleep deprivation has on the amyloid build up in the brain.