Whether it’s lavender oils or bedtime stories, a comfy blanket or an attempt at counting imaginary sheep— we all have our own ‘slumber strategies’ for achieving some well-deserved shut-eye. After all, who hasn’t craved a good night’s sleep? The cozy kind that invites rejuvenation and relaxation, the kind where a cartoon bubble with “Zzzzz…” pops up over our head. We’re mostly aware of the general benefits of sleep (a less caffeinated day, an extra bounce in our step etc.) but what has been less well understood are the specific ways in which sleep can defend against illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

A recent study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine sheds new light on how valuable restful sleep can be in protecting our brain against Alzheimer’s and the cognitive decline that accompanies it. The study looks specifically at Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a disorder that causes shallow breathing or stops breathing during sleep. Researchers suggest that a causal link exists between OSA and the buildup of amyloid proteins. High levels of these proteins in the brain have been shown to lead to the development of Alzheimer’s. Hence, the study suggests that early intervention in countering sleep apnea may also help prevent Alzheimer’s.

Whether it’s helping us arm against long-term illnesses or simply giving our day a boost, sleep, as highlighted by the study, is a valuable ally in enhancing our overall wellbeing. So bring on the lavender and imaginary sheep, and do what you can to get a good night’s sleep! J