Jeffrey Iliff (right) and Bill Rooney, brain scientists at Oregon Health & Science University, look over an MRI. The school has an especially sensitive MRI unit that should be able to detect precisely when during sleep the brain is being cleansed of toxins.

Poor sleep hurts your brain: Risk factor in the development of Alzheimer’s

I’ve written before about the importance of good quality sleep (here, for example).

Now you’ve got yet another powerful reason to get your sleep together: Poor sleep (especially quality of sleep) may be key in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Jeffrey Iliff (right) and Bill Rooney, brain scientists at Oregon Health & Science University, look over an MRI. The school has an especially sensitive MRI unit that should be able to detect precisely when during sleep the brain is being cleansed of toxins.

Jeffrey Iliff (right) and Bill Rooney, brain scientists at Oregon Health & Science University.

Research from brain scientists at Oregon Health & Science University moves our knowledge forward about how lack of deep sleep may get in the way of the glymphatic system’s nocturnal cleanup of the brain.

During deep sleep, the cerebral fluids circulating throughout the brain do a kind of trash collection and removal, clearing out toxins and waste — possibly including the agents that cause amyloid plaques to build more quickly.

Keep in mind that most drug-based sleep aids — from sleep medications to antihistamines — can disrupt the architecture of your sleep, and get in the way of deep sleep states. As one of the researchers in this study put it, we need to work on how we improve the quality of our sleep: “It could be anything from having people exercise more regularly, or new drugs… A lot of the sleep aids don’t particularly focus on driving people to deep sleep stages.”

Nicely summarized in this NPR article, research from brain scientists at Oregon Health & Science University is well worth considering when you’re staying up too late tonight…