Why is sleep important for Alzheimer’s prevention?
“Sleep deficit has real and dangerous implications for the bran. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night has been linked to memory loss and possibly even Alzheimer’s says Dr. Murray Doraiswamy”, brain researcher at Duke University.
What happens during sleep?
During sleep our brain does not actually go to sleep. In fact, several parts of our brain are significantly more active at night than during the day.
During normal sleep the human brain passes through 5 cycles, 1,2,3,4 and Rapid Eye movement cycle.
Different functions occur during each stage. During deeper stages (3 and 4) the lymphatic system, which is like a recycling system, circulates through the brain removing brain toxins including Tau protein and Amyloid Plaque associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Insufficient sleep causes these fragments to accumulate, forming hard, insoluble plaque. Sleep deprivation appears to play a critical role in plaque buildup.
Who is at risk?
- People who have sleep apnea, a disorder which causes individuals to stop and start breathing during the night. Constant interruption from deeper stages of sleep prevents the lymphatic system to remove toxins from the brain leading to plaque buildup.
- Those who suffer from insomnia, a condition when the person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep during the 5 stages of sleep cycle. This too can prevent the cleansing process from happening.
What can you do to improve sleep?
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that Interfere with sleep
- Exercise regularly. The benefits of exercise are immense and sleep quality is no exception
- Ease the transition from being awake to asleep with a period of relaxation activities an hour before bed
- Take Vitamin B6 and B6 fortified foods to increase the production of melatonin, which is important in regulating the body’s internal clock
- Consume Calcium rich foods found in dairy. The brain uses the tryptophan in dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin.