Burning the midnight oil may help you meet a deadline, but it can cost you in the long run. In fact, new research shows that skimping on sleep could significantly increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Most doctors think that something called a beta protein is responsible for Alzheimer’s. It builds up on the brain - like plaque builds up on teeth - and inhibits proper brain function. In healthy people, the brain performs regular housekeeping and sweeps the protein out of the body through the spinal fluid, most of which happens at night.

Dr. Stephen Duntley is a professor of neurology at Washington University.  And his research shows that beta protein levels are highest after long periods of staying awake and lowest after we’ve been asleep for 6 hours.  And studies show that the levels have an impact on brain function. For example, people who are legally drunk often outperform those who are sleep-deprived on tests of brain function – all because the sleep-deprived people have more of this protein still in their system.

So if you want to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s – make sure you get your 8 hours every night.