A recent article in the Journal Science got me to thinking. So, bear with me as it involves tying several thoughts together. This study showed a correlation between lack of deep restorative sleep (DRS) and Alzheimer’s disease.1 This study was in humans and found those that pulled an all-nighter had a 30% increase in beta-amyloid proteins.

More importantly their study showed those pulling the all-nighter had a whopping 50% increase in Tau proteins. Both beta amyloid and tau proteins are associated with Alzheimer’s disease though tau proteins track better with the development of the disease. Beta-amyloid accumulation being an early sign of the disease.

Activated nerves as part of their normal function, release both tau and beta-amyloid. However, lack of DRS is associated with both an increase production and the spread of the tau protein in the brain. In an additional work by this same group found increase levels of tau in older adults who also had less slow wave function during sleep. 2

Less slow wave function is consistent with less or lack of DRS. Thus, their two studies showed that both short term and long term lack of DRS caused these proteins to accumulate. This fit with what I had thought, there is a correlation between lack of DRS, and dementia. More importantly there is a common factor to Alzheimer’s and that is the function or lack thereof the glymphatic drainage system (GDS).

I wrote about this in my book. It makes sense and, in this blog post I will try to fully explain and expand my thoughts based on this new research. As I believe that other similar diseases, called proteinopathies, are related. That like Alzheimer’s that cause dementia and leave tail tailed signs of their presence by depositing proteins.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of what are neurodegenerative diseases called proteinopathies that cause decrease function in the central nervous system. Let me explain. They all have associated with them misfolded or collections of proteins intracellularly or extracellularly.

Diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s, Hunting disease, Parkinson’s and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). They all have similar symptoms and I will argue a similar cause. I believe they all have in common a combination of, lack or severe reduction of DRS either effecting the GDS, a damaged GDS or both lack of DRS and damaged GDS.

Thus, some combination of lack of DRS, and/or malfunctioning GDS combined with then your genetic makeup determines, which disease is contracted. Let’s look at head trauma is also a large factor as it effects the GDS ability to function.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that professional football players have known to contract is to me an example. As it appears to be caused by both a lack of or severe reduction in DRS, but also, from the head trauma causing not only the lack of DRS but also the blockage of the glymphatic drainage system (GDS). As bleeding in the brain, from trauma, has been shown to cause blockage of GDS. 3

So, what is the GDS and how does it work? See the glymphatic system is collapsible tubes that when the brain is normal size are collapsed (closed and nonfunctioning). However, these tubes only fully open after enough uninterrupted DRS. As only then is the brain able to achieve the 30-40% contracted state for these tubules to fully open. 4,5 For the GDS to work requires prolonged DRS.


  1. Holth JK, Fritschi SK, Wang C, et al. (2019 Feb) The sleep-wake cycle regulates brain interstitial fluid tau in mice and CSF tau in humans. Science. 22;363(6429):880-884.
  2. Lucey BP, McCullough A, Landsness EC, et al. Reduced non-rapid eye movement sleep is associated with tau pathology in early Alzheimer’s disease. Science Translational Medicine. 2019 Jan 9;11(474).
  3. Gaberel T, Gakuba C, Goulay R, et al. Impaired glymphatic perfusion after strokes revealed by contrast-enhanced MRI: a new target for fibrinolysis? Stroke. 2014 Oct;45(10):3092-6.
  4. Louveau A, Smirnov I, Keyes TJ, et al. (July 2015). “Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatic vessels”. Nature. 523 (7560): 337–41.
  5. Aspelund A, Antila S, Proulx ST, et al. (June 2015). “A dural lymphatic vascular system that drains brain interstitial fluid and macromolecules”. The Journal of Experimental Medicine. 212 (7): 991–9.

*The information posted above is for educational purposes only. Always check with your doctor before initiating any changes in your medical treatment. If you do not, then The Two-Minute Health Fact, Dr. Judson Somerville, nor The Optimal Dose is responsible!


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