Molecular Brain posted the following abstract on the research study, “Atypical evening cortisol profile induces visual recognition memory deficit in healthy human subjects” published this past August:
Diurnal rhythm-mediated endogenous cortisol levels in humans are characterized by a peak in secretion after awakening that declines throughout the day to an evening trough. However, a significant proportion of the population exhibits an atypical cycle of diurnal cortisol due to shift work, jet-lag, aging, and mental illness.
The present study has demonstrated a correlation between elevation of cortisol in the evening and deterioration of visual object recognition memory. However, high evening cortisol levels have no effect on spatial memory.
This study suggests that atypical evening salivary cortisol levels have an important role in the early deterioration of recognition memory. The loss of recognition memory, which is vital for everyday life, is a major symptom of the amnesic syndrome and early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, this study will promote a potential physiologic marker of early deterioration of recognition memory and a possible diagnostic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease
Translation: Cortisol levels that remain high throughout the day and into the evening can result in significant memory deterioration – and this might be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.
Getting adequate sleep is one-third of how you keep your overall cortisol levels low. It’s also critical to consume the right types of foods and engage in the right kinds of exercises. However, sleep is a pretty quick and easy “fix” that can get you immediate results.
So be sure to engineer another hour to hour-and-a-half into your sleep schedule over the next couple of days. And remember – if sleep were so “overrated,” there wouldn’t be such catastrophic consequences involved with missing out on it.