Update: the role of a good night’s sleep in dementia risk reduction

New research has reiterated that a good night’s sleep may be one of the keys in reducing your risk of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from UC Berkeley, USA published results in the Journal Nature Neuroscience which suggest that sleep deficit may be a channel through which amyloid beta proteins (a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease) are triggered and cause the onset of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

In their study, the researchers suggest that sleep disruption might be a pathway through which amyloid beta pathology occurs and contributes to memory decline particularly that associated with hippocampal dysfunction (a part of the brain important for memory).

UC Berkeley neuroscience professor Matthew Walker said that these findings reveal a new pathway through which Alzheimer’s disease may cause memory decline later in life and suggests that this research does offer some hope for the future.

“Poor sleep is potentially treatable and can be enhanced through exercise, behavioural therapy and even electrical stimulation that amplifies brain waves during sleep, a technology that has been used successfully in young adults to increase their overnight memory.”

He finished by saying:

“Sleep could be a novel therapeutic target for fighting back against memory impairment in older adults and even those with dementia.” Walker said.

In late 2013, Dementia News also covered this topic when researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health also suggested that a good night’s sleep may help clean the brain of amyloid beta deposition. You can read this article here.

Watch the short clip below which further explains how poor sleep may be associated with memory loss.


For more information on sleeping and dementia you can also visit the Alzheimer’s Australia website. Dr Zoe Terpening from the University of Sydney is also currently being funded by the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation to look into whether treating people for sleep apnoea can in fact improve cognition. 



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