From the NPR story:
“Changes in sleep habits may actually be setting the stage” for dementia, says Jeffrey Iliff, a brain scientist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.
The brain appears to clear out toxins linked to Alzheimer’s during sleep, Iliff explains. And, at least among research animals that don’t get enough solid shut-eye, those toxins can build up and damage the brain.
You can listen to the full NPR story by clicking here.
According to the Institute for the Advancement of Senior Care (IASC), “Researchers have known for decades there is a link, as sleep disorders are common among people with the (Alzheimer’s) disease.”
The Oregon (Health & Science) team plans to observe people’s brains while they sleep. To do it, they’ll use a super-sensitive MRI machine to monitor just how and when the sweeping occurs during a participant’s sleep cycle (to clear out toxins). Though the researchers know it may be challenging to get volunteers to sleep in a noisy, confined MRI machine, they hope their findings could illuminate the relationship between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. If they can figure that out, new treatments and preventative measures for the disease may soon follow.
It’s important to point out that just because you don’t sleep well doesn’t mean you will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. That said, it is also important to note that a recent study in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory suggested that a good night’s sleep can help your memory.
Let us know what you think about these new findings and how we might be able to use them to drive our vision to one day make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!