Sweep away brain plaque from the comfort of your bed

Your mind works better after a good night’s rest. We all know that.

But a recent study is shedding light on just how much better adequate sleep is for your brain. And let’s just say that the benefits run deeper than a more productive morning.

As part of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, a team of scientists from Johns Hopkins evaluated 70 subjects in their 70s. The researchers interviewed subjects about their sleep patterns. Then they looked at MRI images of each subject’s brain.

The goal was to see how sleep habits affect build up of beta amyloid plaque–a key Alzheimer’s marker. And surprise, surprise–results revealed a very clear association.

The verdict: Sleep deprived people are more likely to have higher levels of amyloid plaque in their brains. Which means that good sleep habits may ultimately be one way to ward off Alzheimer’s disease.

This research appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And it drives home a message that bears repeating.

Make quality sleep a priority. Because those eight hours you spend in bed might be the most important eight hours of your day.

“Self-reported Sleep and ß-Amyloid Deposition in Community-Dwelling Older Adults.” JAMA Neurol. 2013 Oct 21.