We already know that not getting enough sleep can be bad for you. And now there's another reason to worry if you're getting sleep-deprived: People who have trouble sleeping may be at higher risk for developing Alzheimer's Disease later on.
Top image: Insomnia 2 by EwanR on Flickr.
This research is going to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting, but at it's heart, it's a very simple piece of information: Those who sleep less or sleep poorly also have markers that are an early indication of Alzheimer's.
Let's just be clear, this research is not saying that insomnia causes Alzheimer's, as it's not clear what the link here is. What the researchers found is that people who wake up more than five times an hour while sleeping, or who spend less than 85% of their time in bed asleep, were more likely to have amyloid plaques. These plaques are a biomarker that can appear years before the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease arrive, and can be a crucial step in knowing where the disease will strike.
Unfortunately, this information hasn't been presented yet, and hasn't been published either. We don't know what the occurrence difference was between those that slept well and those that didn't was, nor if sleeping problems were adjusted for other causes (sleep apnea, for instance).
So while this study isn't saying that not sleeping will give you dementia, what it might mean is that if you're a chronic insomniac, it might be worth talking to your doctor.