Dementia is a global problem. Nearly 36 million people are affected by dementia. Most are diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive function. You can decrease your risk by healthy living and sleeping well.
How does Alzheimer’s affect the brain?
There are three pathological changes in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Extracellular accumulation of amyloid-B plaques (AB)
2. Intracellular accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau protein causing neurofibrillary tangles (NFT)
3. Loss of neurons
What are the risk factors associated with developing Alzheimer's?
Presence of apolipoprotein E (APOE)
Does insomnia increase my risk factor for developing Alzheimer's?
There is no definitive link between insomnia and the development of Alzheimer's but there is cause for concern. When compared to good sleepers, the brain imaging studies and cerebral spinal fluid analysis of patients with poor sleep quality or short sleep, have higher levels of amyloid protein.
Why does sleep disturbance cause amyloid to accumulate?
Amyloid-β levels fluctuate in association with sleep-wake cycles. Prolonged periods of wakefulness disrupt the pattern of Aβ protein production and elimination. When Aβ protein accumulates, the fluctuation of Aβ protein with sleep-wake cycles stops. In addition, during sleep, the spaces between brain cells increases. Researchers think this allows more efficient removal of Aβ protein.
How to decrease amyloid β protein plaques.
One of the best ways to decrease amyloid plagues is by getting a good night's sleep. Enhance the likelihood of sleeping well by practicing good sleep hygiene. Here are some sleep hygiene tips:
· Only use your bed for sleep and intimacy.
· Establish a regular bedtime schedule.
· Get adequate exercise.
· Eat lots of fruits and vegetables because this is required to make neurotransmitters essential to sleep.
· Avoid alcohol to close to bedtime
· Leave stress/wrong outside your bedroom
If you have a tip of how to sleep well, I’d like to hear from you.
Reference: Macedo A, Balouch S, Taber N (2017). Is sleep disruption a risk factor for Alzheimer's diseases? Journal of Alzheimer's Disease 58: 993-1002