Can Sleeping Too Little Affect One’s Capacity?

January 27, 2021 Suzana Popovic-Montag General Interest Tags: , , , 0 Comments

It is generally understood that, in order to execute a valid Last Will and Testament, a testator must meet the legal test for capacity. Drafting solicitors must remain especially vigilant when preparing a Will for an elderly client.

On October 16, 2013, we blogged on the correlation found between oversleeping and mental incapacity. Though the cause for the correlation was unknown, studies conducted by Columbia University and Hospital University of Madrid concluded that those who regularly oversleep might be more likely to develop Dementia. “Oversleeping” was classified as sleeping for nine or more hours every night.

Researchers funded by the National Institute of Health have found evidence that the reverse is also true when it comes to sleep: those already suffering from progressive neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, may experience more severe symptoms and a quicker decline as a result of chronic lack of sleep. Sleep patterns can affect cognitive ability and, in turn, the ability to execute a Will. These findings negate some cultural beliefs that “sleep is for the weak” and instead suggest that sleep is more important than we might want to believe.

Just as we cleanse our physical bodies at the end of each day, the brain also undergoes a process to cleanse itself of its “waste,” otherwise known as amyloid plaques. This detoxification process occurs while we are sleeping. Amyloid plaques are produced throughout the day and, like any other plaque that is built up, they can cause harm to our bodies when not properly removed. Amyloid plaques, specifically, have been linked to brain functioning and associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Without a proper night’s sleep, our brains are unable to eliminate these damaging toxins and thus cannot maintain optimal functioning.

Given the compelling evidence linking sleep patterns to possible cognitive decline, if you wish to remain capable of executing a Will, the importance of a good night’s rest cannot be overstated.

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Suzana Popovic-Montag and Tori Joseph

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