Sleeping less than 6 1/2 hours?

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Sometimes people ask me:  “How much sleep should I be getting?”

That’s a hard question. Science usually depends on the statistics of what’s true for many people — but you’re a unique individual. No law can be applied to you. You sleep as you sleep! 

But here’s a study that will help you consider if your body needs more sleep.

The Study

This research paper was published last year in the respected Journal of the American Medical Association - Neurology. It’s from a large multinational study that’s investigating why people get Alzheimer’s Disease.   https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/2783664?resultClick=1

More than 4400 people were involved, ages 65 - 85, and 59% were women. All participants were healthy at the time of the study. They were each asked to report how long they usually sleep.

Researchers then checked them for “Amyloid beta". Amyloid beta is a protein-like substance that's usually found in the brain and spinal fluid of Alzheimer’s patients. Amyloid beta is understood to be a 'marker' (an indicator) for Alzheimer’s Disease.

What We Learned

Researchers discovered that participants who reported ‘short’ sleep (6 hours or less) showed higher levels of amyloid beta, as compared to ‘normal’ sleepers (7-8 hours). The shorter their sleep, the more they had amyloid beta.

This study links sleep duration of 6 hours or less to the presence of a major marker for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Note: Participants who reported ‘long’ sleep (9 hrs or more) also had health problems when compared to ‘normal‘ sleepers, but they didn’t have elevated amyloid beta. Only ‘short’ sleepers had higher levels of amyloid beta.

I hope you find this information helpful. It's an important study — large, well-funded, and well-designed. It gives us reliable evidence indicating that 'short' sleep puts people at higher risk for Alzheimer's Disease.

Based on this study, you want a nightly sleep of longer than 6 hours!