Get Your Sleep -- Or Get Alzheimer's?

Yet another reason to get your sleep.  Now, too few hours may lead to Alzheimer's.  A new Johns Hopkins study has found shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality is linked to a biomarker for Alzheimer's.

According to, "Poor sleep quality may impact Alzheimer’s disease onset and progression."

"Our study found that among older adults, reports of shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with higher levels of (a protein) measured by PET scans of the brain,” quotes Adam Spira, PhD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health. “These results could have significant public health implications as Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, and approximately half of older adults have insomnia symptoms.”

In the study, participants reported sleep that ranged from more than seven hours to no more than five hours. Those who slept the least and had a lower quality of sleep had a higher build-up of the protein that can signify Alzheimer's than those who slept well.

“These findings are important in part because sleep disturbances can be treated in older people. To the degree that poor sleep promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for poor sleep or efforts to maintain healthy sleep patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer disease,” Spira told

Gary Drevitch explains further at that, at minimum, "The research highlights the potential importance of regular sleep in slowing dementia, as well as the possible neurological risks of consistently getting too little sleep."  This is because toxic wastes are flushed from our brains as we sleep, he writes, and when we don't sleep -- or sleep enough -- they can't be eliminated, and the waste could possibly set the stage for Alzheimer's. Essentially, when we don't sleep, the toxins remain in our brains.  A medication that could flush them could prove ground-breaking for the treatment of the neurological disease.

The findings can't determine definitively whether poor sleep contributes to or accelerates Alzheimer’s disease.  More studies are needed for that.  But try to get to sleep a little earlier tonight, just in case.


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