A Plausible Connection between Sleep and Recovery

The CroodsWhile researching content for a post, I noticed an article in JAMA Neurology titled “Self-reported Sleep and β-Amyloid Deposition in Community-Dwelling Adults.” The image that first came to mind was a group of cave-dwelling prehistoric humans in animal-fur outfits. After deciding the article had nothing to do with cave dwellers, I conducted more research.

The JAMA article appears to be an summary of the reseach conducted by Johns Hopkins University. Similarly, the Johns Hopkins report titled “Shorter Sleep Duration and Poorer Sleep Quality Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease Biomarker” appears to be an abstract of the actual study conducted by Johns Hopkins with funding provided by the National Institute of Aging. Although neither title is tremendously attention grabbing, I felt a small degree of certainty that the Johns Hopkins report contained information applicable to readers of this blog. Thankfully, my persistence resulted in some post-worthy content.

According to the Johns Hopkins report, “Our study found that among older adults, reports of shorter sleep duration and poorer sleep quality were associated with higher levels of β-Amyloid measured by PET scans of the brain,” said Adam Spira, PhD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health. “These results could have significant public health implications as Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, and approximately half of older adults have insomnia symptoms.”

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 5.1 million Americans may have the disease, with first symptoms appearing after age 60. Previous studies have linked disturbed sleep to cognitive impairment in older people.

“These findings are important in part because sleep disturbances can be treated . . . .  To the degree that poor sleep promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for poor sleep or efforts to maintain healthy sleep patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer disease,” said Spira.  He added that the findings “cannot demonstrate a causal link between poor sleep and Alzheimer’s disease, and that longitudinal studies with objective sleep measures are needed to further examine whether poor sleep contributes to or accelerates Alzheimer’s disease.”

Your Turn

Given the findings, do you think it is possible:

  • sleep plays a role in the prevention of brain injury?
  • sleep plays a role in recovery from brain injury?
  • the amount and quality of sleep affects thinking, processing, and memory?

What is your plan for ensuring you get the sleep you need?


“Self-reported Sleep and β-Amyloid Deposition in Community-Dwelling Older Adults,” was written by Adam P. Spira, Alyssa A. Gamaldo, Yang An, Mark N. Wu, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Murat Bilgel, Yun Zhou, Dean F. Wong, Luigi Ferrucci and Susan M. Resnick.

Thanks to Jack C. Crawford for sharing the article upon which this post is based, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health for conducting the study, the National Institute on Aging for partially funding the study, JAMA Neurology for publishing the article upon which this post is based, and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text I used in this post.

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