An interesting study has been in the news this week, suggesting a possible link between sleep quality and Alzheimer’s. While the study doesn’t suggest that everyone with insomnia will develop dementia, the study did find an interesting correlation between poor sleep quality and an increase in amyloid protein production, the latter which is associated with the brain plaque found in Alzheimer’s patients.
My father had no trouble sleeping most of his life. In fact, sometimes I felt like he slept too much, especially when I was a kid. He worked the swing shift so he was on a different schedule from the rest of us. He would go to bed about 2 a.m. after winding down with a couple of beers and watching late night TV. So even if he just slept the recommended eight hours a night, that would mean he wouldn’t rise until mid-morning. I was an early riser for school and I don’t know if Mom ever slept at all, haha.
Other than Dad’s occasional nightmares, I don’t remember Dad having any sleep issues. As Dad’s dementia progressed, his sleep patterns shifted. He would stay up all night, just sitting in his chair in the living room, fully dressed in his day clothes. He would spend the day nodding off, falling asleep wherever he was.
What came first? The sleep issues or the dementia? We will never know, but getting a good night’s sleep offers many health benefits. I’ve never been one prone to insomnia, but in the past couple of years, I’ve been awakened by my senior pets in the middle of night needing food or other care. So my sleep pattern has been consistently broken. I will be following further sleep and dementia studies very closely.