Sleep, that beautiful, restorative slumber we strive for each and every day continues to prove vital in the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life.
When we fall asleep our brains go through a number of processes – they take memories and things we’ve learned and make connections to the other parts of the brain. It solidifies memories it deems important and wipes out the unimportant (which is why you have so much trouble remembering what you had for breakfast yesterday, but can remember the breakfast you tried two months ago at a new restaurant).
The long and short is that insufficient sleep or sleep disturbed by apnea reduce the cleaning our brains have the opportunity to do.
It’s worth stressing that this recent study between Australian and Icelandic scientists continues to point to a link between sleep and Alzheimer’s, it’s inconclusive yet to if disturbed sleep leads to Alzheimer’s or if part of the earliest indicators of the disease is disturbed sleep.
This recent RMIT University Release does a great job of explaining the study results in everyday language. The actual study is a bit more scientific than I can digest, but includes a wealth of information!