New research suggests a stronger connection between Alzheimer's disease and sleep than previously thought. Not getting enough sleep consistently can produce a brain clogging substance that increases one’s chance of getting Alzheimer’s.
This substance is a protein by the name of Beta-Amyloid and it can cause damage in the brain before memory issues even manifest. Dr. Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley, who presented data linking amyloid levels with people's sleep and memory performance at the Alzheimer’s conference said, "[Sleep is] a new player on the scene that increases risk of Alzheimer's disease."
As such, researchers are looking at sleep as a treatment option. If getting more good-quality sleep can help ward off the disease or potentially decrease the symptoms for those who already have it then doctors may begin examining their patients sleep more seriously.
Two sleep studies comparing the sleep habits of over 6000 individuals found that those who had more difficulties falling asleep were shown to be more likely to develop mild cognitive impairments. These mild impairments sometimes led to Alzheimer’s disease.