Something Else to Worry About: Lack of Sleep May Lead to Alzheimer’s
Every time you turn around, there's another piece of bad news about the world and the people in it, namely us. The headline which screamed at me early this morning has very personal resonance; Being Sleepy During the Day Could Be a Warning Sign of Alzheimer's.
At this point in my life, I have dealt with daytime sleepiness for nearly three decades due to the trajectory of my career; working early mornings on the radio. Of course that is not the sole reason for my sleepy-headed nature. I also spent many years with untreated severe sleep apnea.
Now that I have become a member of the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine nation, I do sleep better at night, but not necessarily longer. I have always been a night owl and even after I started getting up at 4 in the morning for work, I would stay up until 11:30 PM or midnight, (I was addicted to Letterman) most nights. I now make a concerted effort to be asleep by 11 PM, but again, that is only 5 hours of sleep a night.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals that daytime sleepiness "may be an indicator of Alzheimer's disease". The study's authors remain unsure of the exact mechanism, but are circling around disrupted sleep as the possible culprit.
Without going into a lot of physiological detail, when you sleep you clear out a lot of the shmutz (amyloid plaque deposits) in your brain. But when you don't get quality, uninterrupted sleep, that built-up shmutz can eventually lead to Alzheimer's.
Remember when you were a little kid and napping was something you despised, not craved? Me too.
Now-- if I could just remember where I put my car keys!