Sleep deprivation possible symptom of Alzheimer's

February 14, 2012 2:00:34 PM PST
Restless nights can mean more than just feeling out of sorts during the day, they can literally make people forget what a good night's sleep felt like.

"You need sufficient sleep, such as a good seven to eight hours of sleep," said Dr. Tina Waters from the Cleveland Clinic. "And if for whatever reason you're not getting that we're finding more concrete evidence that your memory is indeed being affected."

Sleep deprivation can affect people daily as well as long-term.

Washington University researchers tested the sleep patterns of 100 dementia-free people between the ages of 45 and 80. Results have shown that people who wake up more than five times per hour are more likely to have a plaque buildup that's associated with Alzheimer's disease.

The study also found those who had repeated restless nights were more likely to have the markers of early stage Alzheimer's. Researchers say more research is needed to substantiate the link between a lack of sleep and its effect on memory.

"If you're spending a lot of time in bed but it's not necessarily sleep time, those individuals potentially had a chance of developing Alzheimer's down the road as well," said Waters.

If problems continue to persist, Waters recommended an alternative solution.

"So, getting a good seven to eight hours of sleep, if you're not getting that, waking up frequently during the nighttime, that is not normal and that's something you should discuss with your healthcare provider."