WSU Sleep Researchers Remark on Study Linking Sleep Irregularity with Cognitive Decline

Person trying to sleep

Two researchers in the WSU College of Medicine’s Sleep and Performance Research Center are quoted in a Spokesman-Review article highlighting a new sleep study. In the article, faculty members Hans Van Dongen, PhD, and Jason Gerstner, PhD, discuss the association between sleep regularity and cognitive decline.

The study is led by University of Washington School of Medicine professor Jeffrey Iliff, who recently spoke about his research at the Sleep and Performance Research Center on the WSU Spokane campus. The study found that consistently sleeping seven hours or more a night over the years can deter cognitive decline later in life.

Van Dongen and Gerstner are familiar with the study and have done similar research here at WSU.

“When you don’t get enough sleep, there is accumulation of what we can describe as waste from the brain that doesn’t properly get cleared,” Van Dongen told the Spokesman-Review. “We know if you did sleep seven hours on average on a regular basis, you would probably clear the waste from the brain and take care of everything the brain needs to do during sleep.”

The study also highlights the importance of good sleep during midlife, prior to any signs of cognitive impairment. WSU researchers echo the study’s authors when they say quality sleep is important in your 30s and 40s, when many people are the busiest building careers and raising families.

Gerstner adds that the study emphasizes that optimal sleep should be on everyone’s list of healthy habits, with diet and exercise.

“Sleep is one of the things that we traditionally would dismiss, but we can’t think like that,” Gerstner said. “We really have to put sleep at the forefront for living a healthy life.

The researchers also share advice for those who struggle to get good sleep. Click the link below to read the full article.