Nothing beats a good night's sleep – but when was the last time you got one?

If you can't remember, here's some sobering news: New research links poor sleep to Alzheimer's disease.

A study on mice finds that levels of a protein associated with the disease rise and fall along with sleep. But when the mice were deprived of sleep, those levels of amyloid beta skyrocketed, according to a study published in the journal Science.

Alzheimer's patients have high levels of this protein in their brains, so you really want make sure this stuff isn't building up inside your own noggin – and it seems one great way to do that is to simply get enough sleep.

And that's not the only reason to make sure you're getting your nightly ration of Zzz's.

Ever notice that you're more likely to catch a cold when you're tired? That's not a coincidence. Poor sleep can decimate your immune system. Insomnia can also speed the aging process, slow your brain and reaction time, and add stress to your life, marriage and job.

I know getting more sleep is easier said than done – and you're not the only one experiencing problems. Turn the TV to almost any channel, and it won't be long before you see a commercial for a med to help you get to sleep.

A few minutes later, you'll probably see a commercial for an energy drink to keep you awake.

Here's a good way to know if you're getting enough sleep – can you wake up without an alarm clock? If you tend to awaken naturally, on your own, and feeling refreshed, chances are you're doing it right.

But if you have to force yourself out of bed after a few futile pounds of the snooze button and then slam down three cups of coffee before you can even begin to function, then your body is trying to tell you something.

The answer to your sleep problem will depend on what's causing it – but I can tell you one place you shouldn't look: prescription meds. These things have terrible side effects and many of them are addictive.

Dr. Casey Adams has written about some of the best all-natural cures for sleeplessness at, and it's a great place to start (and maybe even end) your own search for the perfect night's sleep.

Keep missing out on that crucial sleep, and you won't just be unhealthy. You could end up with dementia.

That's a pretty high price for too much tossing and turning.

And if you're still having trouble sleeping, read on – because there's one thing many people can do on their own, without meds, to sleep better.