US News asks: Is there a link between sleep problems and an increased risk of developing the progressive brain disorder Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia?

Much still remains unclear in regards to whether or how sleep problems might impact one’s chances of experiencing long-term cognitive decline. Research hasn’t yet established, for example, that persistent sleep woes cause or contribute to the development of dementia later in life.

“There’s been a lot of research recently suggesting that during sleep there’s a physiological mechanism by which amyloid perhaps is cleared from the brain and allowed to be filtered out of the central nervous system and removed,” says Dr. Arjun Masurkar, an assistant professor of neurology and neuroscience and physiology at NYU Langone Health’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center in New York City. “It would lead to the intriguing idea that the better you sleep, the better you clear amyloid from your brain, and that perhaps poor sleep will retain amyloid in the brain and therefore lead to Alzheimer’s disease.”