By Natalie Rahhal Deputy Health Editor For Dailymail.com
Published: 18:06 BST, 17 June 2019 | Updated: 18:06 BST, 17 June 2019
Years of poor sleep can lead to changes in brain waves while you rest - and looking at those shifts in neural activity while you rest could help doctors diagnose Alzheimer's, new research suggests.
While sleep's exact purpose is still a mystery to scientists, most suspect it serves as a nightly cleaning for the brain (among other functions).
And even a single short night has been linked to higher levels of Alzheimer's-related plaques in the brain, suggesting that, without sleep, these toxic waste products don't get swept away.
Now, University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) scientists have found that as we age, our 'sleep waves' get out of sync, which may cause two markers of Alzheimer's disease to collect in the brain.
As we age, two forms of brain waves key to sleep fall out of sync and we have fewer of them. These changes may predict the development of Alzheimer's plaques and tangles (file)
Lead study author Dr Matthew Walker, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley and 'Sleep Diplomat', often warns that the US is in the midst of a 'sleep deprivation epidemic' - and that it's hurting our overall health.
It's not recognized by the National Institutes of Health or the World Health Organization, but it's certainly a common problem.
More than one third of Americans get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night we're supposed to.