We all know the benefits of a good night's sleep. Not only do you wake up bright-eyed and feeling rested, your mind is more alert and functions better. But a new study also suggests that getting undisturbed sleep could lower your risk for developing Alzheimer's later in life.
Researchers from Uppasala University in Sweden say their findings, published in the Alzheimer's and Dementia journal, suggest that improved sleep quality as you get older could help protect men from the memory-robbing disease.
'We demonstrate that men with self-reported sleep disturbances run a 1.5-fold higher risk to develop Alzheimer's disease than those without reports of sleep disturbances during a 40-year follow-up period," lead researcher Christian Benedict said in a statement. "The later the self-reported sleep disturbance was found the higher the risk was for developing Alzheimer's disease."
The study followed over 1,500 men, who were 50 at the start of the study, for 40 years. Researchers looked for the incidence of dementia at follow-up intervals as well as the subjects' reports of their sleep disturbances. The highest risk for developing dementia was found among men who reported sleep disturbances starting at age 70.
While the risk of developing Alzheimer's was around 50 percent higher for men with sleep issues, it was also a third higher for dementia in general.
The sleep-dementia link has been widely studied by Alzheimer's researchers. Another study conducted by Uppasala University researchers pointed to sleep deprivation with an increase of molecules in the brain, which are found in instances of brain damage. The uptick of these molecules was seen in just one night of missed sleep.
In 2013, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that not only a short sleep duration, but also low sleep quality was seen to increase the risk of Alzheimer's in older people.
Researchers say the key is to instill the value of getting adequate, restful sleep in older adults.