Sleep is our body’s way of restoring its vital organs including the brain. But what happens when sleep is elusive over a long period of time? Research shows that the lack of consistent sleep can impact our brains in negative ways and increase our risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
A research review in Nature Communications recently concluded that persistent short sleep durations of six hours or less at age 50, 60 and 70, as compared to a normal night’s sleep of seven hours, was associated with a 30% increase in dementia risk. The study looked at research that followed participants for 10 years or more.
So, what happens in our brains while we sleep? “Sleep is a restorative function,” explained Jeremy Pruzin, MD, a memory care expert at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix. “While we sleep the brain repairs synapses and clears substances, including the beta-amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”