If I don’t sleep well, will I get Alzheimer’s?

We have all heard about the importance of sleep for our health. Good sleep is synonymous with better mood and vitality. But what happens when we don’t get enough sleep? Some sleep disorders can occur, if we don’t get a good night’s rest, we don’t allow our bodies to heal. This can make us hungrier, weaker, less concentrated, or suffer from some kind of illness in the future.

In recent research, scientists have discovered that our circadian rhythm is linked to certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). According to US researchers, “cells that can help maintain brain health and prevent Alzheimer’s disease follow a circadian rhythm” [1].

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease manifest changes in their sleep habits before the disorder becomes fully manifest. These changes are related to circadian rhythm disruption, but researchers do not yet understand whether poor sleep can cause Alzheimer’s or whether it is a consequence of the disease.

A protein called beta-amyloid accumulates in the brains of AD patients, forming “plaques” and disrupting the function of brain cells. In normal brains, these proteins are cleared by other cells that follow a 24-hour circadian rhythm. This leads the researchers to think that “if the circadian rhythm is disrupted it could make it more difficult for these cells to remove the harmful plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s”.

While these results are interesting, it remains difficult to say whether circadian rhythm disruption is a result of AD or whether it is part of the cause. But it is a fact that sleep is important, and there is growing evidence that the circadian rhythm is key to our health. 

If we want to be healthy, we must protect our circadian rhythm with certain routines in our daily life:

  • Have a regular bedtime and wake-up time
  • Expose yourself to natural light or artificial bright light in the morning
  • Make exercise during the day
  • Limit artificial light exposure at night, especially screen light.
  • Reduce the alcohol and caffeine consumption

Being aware of the risks of bad habits for our body’s health and making an effort to change them is a step forward to fight sleep disorders that could cause diseases like Alzheimer’s.

At KUMUX, we are very conscious of the effects of light on health. We have developed an algorithm to control artificial light indoors and mimic sunlight so people’s circadian rhythms are balanced and their overall wellness is improved.