Sleep and Alzheimer’s
Recently, NPR has published an article summarizing the latest advancements of Alzheimer’s research. While there are many dimensions to this field, one dimension focuses on predictors of Alzheimer’s. One of these predictors is sleep, or lack thereof. Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience at the Berkeley in California says that deep sleep can help protect against Alzheimer’s, where lack of sleep may in fact be a risk factor for the development of Alzheimer’s. In this article, we will briefly summarize NPR’s interview with Dr. Walker, as well as provide some helpful tips on how to ensure good sleep.
Researchers have now discovered a significant link between poor sleep and dementia, building on top of a large body of literature connecting poor sleep to memory issues. Specifically, researchers have discovered the protective qualities of deep sleep, when the brain produces slow electrical waves. This stage of sleep helps remove beta-amyloids and tau proteins, two culprits in the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Being unable to reach deep sleep, therefore, can be a huge risk factor for Alzheimer’s. People with sleep-related issues, like sleep apnea, are at a higher risk than most people because their condition does not allow them to reach the deep sleep which helps eliminate harmful proteins in the brain. Treating certain sleeping disorders can help correct for missed deep sleep periods. We can also practice healthy habits to ensure we are getting good quality sleep. Below we will detail some helpful tips that you can use to put in practice good sleep hygiene.
Tips for Good Sleep
(1) Set a Schedule: Indeed, one of the major stumbles most people make is not being mindful about the times they should go to bed. Sometimes, we stay up late to watch a movie, work late at night, or stress over something before bedtime, negatively impacting how soon we get to bed. You should find a time that allows you to get at least seven to eight hours of good sleep and be very protective of that time.
(2) Practice Mindfulness Thirty Minutes Before Bed: Set aside thirty minutes before bedtime to practice some deep breathing and mindfulness. There are plenty of apps now, like Calm, that guide you through a mindfulness practice. This can help re-center your attention and focus on a good night’s sleep.
(3) Avoid Electronics Before Bed: A growing body of research shows that the blue light emitted from screens can negatively impact our sleep. Things like smart phones, televisions, and computer monitors are virtually impossible to avoid in today’s world. But turning off our electronics, or putting them down, an hour before bed can help us get good quality sleep.
(4) Stay Away from Caffeine Closer to Bedtime: Coffee might be good in the morning, but it can keep us up all night if taken too close to bedtime. To avoid sleepless nights, avoid caffeinated products in the afternoons and evenings.
While these are just a few suggestions, they can offer you some helpful strategies to set things right before bedtime. If you have any other questions, then please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.