The Correlation Between Alzheimer’s and Sleep

By: HarborView Senior Assisted Living

While sleep and dementia is a complicated topic, certain research has found a correlation between poor sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. A bad night’s sleep may increase the level of a protein in your brain that has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Research indicates that chronic poor sleep in middle age may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s in later life. We don’t have to live in fear of memory loss or dementia, but we should be smart about the decisions we make. Take a look at this article for 5 helpful tips on getting a better night’s sleep! Read on to learn more about the relationship between dementia and sleep. 


Thanks for joining us for our series on dementia and Alzheimer’s research! If you or a loved one was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), you are probably experiencing a wide range of emotions. This is very normal and coming to a place of acceptance with a memory related diagnosis is always a difficult journey. Further along in the journey you might find yourself wanting to look into studies and relevant research to better understand this family of diseases. Evidence-based care is a huge priority for us at Harbor View Senior Assisted Living (as well as at our sister sites, Mesa View Senior Assisted Living and Bay View Assisted Living) and we hope you will appreciate diving into the research with us!


  • Light Sleep Disorders: Different types of sleep disorders seem to have a connection with certain diseases of the brain. Rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder (RBD), often called light sleep disorders, can be characterized by people talking or acting out what is happening in their dreams. Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s disease seem to be associated with light sleep disorders. Some research indicates that the part of the brain affected by these two diseases play a role in light sleep disorders.
  • Sleep-Wake Cycle Disorders: When the 24 hour sleep cycle (active during the day and sleepy at night) is disrupted it can cause many unusual sleep patterns. These might include napping during the day, having difficulty falling or staying asleep, and being awake during the night. Increased levels of a protein called amyloid are often detected in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Research also shows that increased amyloid levels may be connected to sub-standard sleep.

Poor sleep might affect the body’s natural process of eliminating amyloid from the brain. Additionally, increased levels of this protein might be linked to a decreased ability to store memories. Researchers infer that improving sleep might delay the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s. Alternatively, some research indicates changing sleep patterns are caused by other alterations in the brain and do not increase Alzheimer’s risk. More research is needed before definitive conclusions can be made.

  • Sleep Disordered Breathing: Sleep Disordered Breathing, also known as sleep apnea, is when a person finds it challenging to breathe while they are asleep. Again, the reasons for this are multifactorial. It is most commonly found in older adults with obesity, though it can impact people of all ages. Sleep disordered breathing may cause damage to the brain because of oxygen deprivation or changes of blood flow to the brain. Some research points to a correlation between sleep apnea and cognitive decline.


We are committed to evidence-based care at Harbor View Senior Assisted Living (as well as at our sister sites, Mesa View Senior Assisted Living and Bay View Assisted Living) and being familiar with relevant research is an important part of the care we provide. 

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