Have you ever slept all night -- only to wake up in the morning feeling tired? You probably didn't get enough deep sleep. And a new report finds a lack of good quality shut-eye might raise the risk for dementia.
Sleep expert Dr. Douglas Kirsch of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says too many restless nights can lead to a variety of health issues.
"Problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease," he said.
We may need to add Alzheimer's Disease to that list.
“When people don't sleep well, their brain cells don't get a chance to rest," Dr. Yo-El Ju of Washington University.
Ju tracked the sleep habits of 17 healthy people at home, and also had them spend two nights in her sleep lab at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Each time the participants drifted into deep sleep, a beeping monitor would rouse them out of it and into lighter sleep. That caused levels of proteins called amyloid to rise in their spinal fluid.
"Also, when we looked at their home sleep, the worse their sleep, the more their tau increased,” Ju said. “Both amyloid and tau are proteins involved in Alzheimer's Disease."
One or two restless nights should not cause long-term damage. The concern is for chronic sleep deprivation.
"If you're not getting enough sleep over months and months, yeah, it's going to lead to you having problems down the line," Kirsch said.
Sleep experts advise staying away from caffeine, alcohol and electronics before bed.
So, would getting "super sleep" — a lot of that deep sleep — help prevent those Alzheimer's changes? Another research project has been looking at that question... And is expected to be published soon.