Prevention: Sleep

In anyone of any age, consistently poor sleep can lead to problems with concentrating, learning, and remembering. In older people, medical research has found links between getting poor sleep and developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Researchers have found evidence that the brain “resets” during sleep, and this “reset” removes or consolidates unnecessary memories and thoughts. A study by researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison also found evidence that during sleep, the brain clears abnormal, toxic proteins from the brain. Some of these abnormal proteins are linked to the root of Alzheimer’s disease. Medical researchers are further studying the link between sleep and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

How can we know if we’re getting good sleep? Some people need more sleep than others to feel fully rested. And some people have health issues that make sleep more difficult to achieve. But for most people, it’s recommended to aim for six to nine hours of sleep per night. Studies have shown one in three Americans do not get this level of sleep.

Medical problems such as sleep apnea can also cause disrupted, poor sleep quality. People who did not get enough quality sleep during the night often feel sluggish or sleepy during the day. They may feel tired immediately after waking up in the morning, as though they have not slept at all. This is considered poor sleep.

The good news is sleep can be improved through addressing issues such as sleep apnea, creating a healthy pre-sleep routine, and sometimes taking medication for limited amounts of time. It’s important to prioritize getting good sleep. Making changes to daily routines can help make better sleep more likely.

Good sleep tips include:

  • No electronics or bright screens before bed
  • Limit caffeine intake in the afternoon and evenings
  • Start a relaxing evening routine that includes a relaxation method
  • Avoid eating right before bed
  • Exercise during the day, but not right before bed
  • Limit alcohol intake, especially right before bed


More Health Habits to Prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia