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Alzheimer’s Insights: Sleeping patterns may be related to Alzheimer’s

Scott Finley

Do you get enough sleep? Most adults will say no.  We’ve all seen Dagwood taking his famous sofa naps in the comic strip “Blondie” and have perhaps been envious.

Did you know sleep and dementia have a relationship?  While researchers are not certain of the exact interaction, it’s there.  Does dementia lead to poor sleep or does poor sleep lead to dementia?

Studies have shown growing evidence that during deep sleep, the brain seems to cleanse itself of beta-amyloid and tau.  Increases in these two items are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

What’s not yet understood is if deep sleep – the sleep you have without dreams – helps the brain cleanse itself of these two items, or if sleep in fact decreases the production of these items.

A British study shows that people in their 50’s or 60’s sleeping six hours or less per night have an increased risk of dementia.  However, researchers could not prove a cause and effect for this.

What is clear is that you can help take better care of your brain.  Don’t smoke, eat right, drink in moderation and keep yourself physically and mentally fit.

A good time to get a start on this is in June, which is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. There’s more at www.alz.org/abam/overview.asp

You can also help by taking part in The Longest Day.  It’s held on the date of the summer solstice – this year, June 20th.  It’s aimed at starting and continuing the conversation about brain health.

There’s still plenty of time to join The Longest Day events for June.

Go to alz.org/thelongestday to sign up and select an activity to

raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association and support the Alzheimer’s Association’s efforts to advance critically needed research and provide care and support to all those impacted by Alzheimer’s disease.

Meanwhile, you can always get the latest information about the Association’s COVID-19 guidelines for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers in long-term or community-based care settings here:

https://alz.org/professionals/professional-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-tips-for-dementia-caregivers

The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

Scott Finley is Media Relations Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association® in Texas.  He can be reached at scfinley@alz.org