Sleep and Dementia

It has been known for some time that there is a correlation between sleep and dementia.  In an article published in Science on October 18, 2013, researchers found an interesting potential explanation for this association.  We know that amyloid beta accumulates in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.  The study performed at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York discovered that during sleep the brain doubles the rate at which it removes metabolic debris including amyloid beta.  Other research has reported an inverse relationship between sleep and the accumulation of amyloid beta in the brain.  The researchers found that the interstitial space volume increases by greater than 60% with sleep which may account for this “clearing”.  This finding may open new research possibilities.  What may impair the clearance mechanism – Diabetes?   Hypertension?  Age?  Can we find a way to enhance this sleep clearance mechanism and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases?  These findings clearly emphasize the importance of a good nights sleep for brain health.