Ask The Sleep Doctor: Sleep and Appearance, Sleep and Alzheimer’s and Sleep and Hyperactivity

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Can lack of sleep contribute to one’s appearance? My 35-year-old daughter sleeps only a few hours per night. She has many facial wrinkles and appears far older than her age. Could the two be linked?

Answer:

Yes, it is during sleep that we regenerate skin, especially between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., when we experience the majority of our deep sleep. This is because that is when we produce the majority of growth hormone. Growth hormone is intimately linked to tissue regeneration. It is not unusual to see premature aging in those who get insufficient sleep. We believe this is in part due to the inhibition of growth hormone.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Is there any truth to the relationship of sleep apnea to Alzheimer’s disease?


Answer:

Several recent studies seem to be showing that. In most of these studies, the deposition of beta amyloid and tau protein, both of which have been implicated in Alzheimer’s, seems to be accelerated in sleep apnea. As of now, the evidence would seem to favor a cause and effect relationship.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My 8-year-old is hyperactive and aggressive towards other children in class. He also has trouble focusing. I brought this up with our pediatrician who wanted to know if he snores. I told him he does and he wants him to have a sleep test for sleep apnea. Does this make sense?


Answer:

Yes, your pediatrician is correct. In children, sleep apnea can present with just those symptoms. In fact, frequently children with sleep apnea are wrongly assumed to have ADHD. The sleep study should help to resolve the issue.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My husband has Parkinson’s. Recently he’s been having rather violent dreams where he kicks and punches. Could this be due to his medications?


Answer:

Unlikely. It sounds like your husband is manifesting REM Behavior Disorder. In this condition, people can actually move while dreaming and act out their dreams. Normally, during dream sleep we cannot move. This is common in Parkinson’s. I would discuss it with your neurologist. There are treatments for it. In the meantime, take precautions so that neither you nor he is seriously injured.

Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, is the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona and sleep medicine consultant for Mountain Heart Health Services in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Rosenberg is Board Certified in Sleep Medicine, Pulmonary Medicine, and Internal Medicine. His book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day  is a best seller. Dr Rosenberg’s latest book is The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety. Visit Dr Rosenberg’s website www.AnswersForSleep.com which offers a wealth of information on sleep topics.

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