"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Does getting quality sleep help prevent Alzheimer's disease?

It's amazing how a superb night's sleep can rejuvenate the mind, or “relax the little gray cells” as Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie's famous sleuth, liked to say.

But good sleep can protect your brain from Alzheimer's disease in one other way. Research has begun to point out a link between poor sleep and the next risk of beta-amyloid protein plaque buildup within the brain, one in every of the hallmarks of the disease.

Clearing amyloids

Any discussion of Alzheimer's often begins with amyloid proteins. They accumulate within the brain day by day and are considered waste products from the energy utilized by brain cells when they convey.

Your brain clears excess amyloid protein during slow-wave sleep, the stage of deep sleep during which your memories are consolidated. Some studies show that when your sleep is interrupted throughout the slow wave phase, amyloid proteins construct up and form plaques on brain tissue. Scientists imagine that is the primary stage in the event of Alzheimer's, and it will probably occur years before symptoms appear.

Whichever comes first.

The link between poor sleep and amyloid plaques can be a classic chicken-and-egg scenario: Does less sleep cause amyloid plaques, or does plaque buildup cause poor sleep?

It will not be clear.

Oh 2015 study I Nature Neuroscience explored the query using brain imaging in 26 older adults, ages 65 to 81, who had not been diagnosed with dementia and didn't report sleep problems. First, the group received PET scans to measure amyloid levels of their brains. Then they were asked to memorize 120 pairs of words and were tested on how well they remembered a component of them.

The people then slept for eight hours, during which their brain waves were measured for sleep disturbances, specifically whether or not they woke up throughout the slow wave phase. The next morning, their brains were scanned as they tried to recall the memorized words. Overall, individuals with the very best levels of brain amyloid had the worst sleep quality and performed the worst on memory tests – with some people forgetting greater than half of the data.

Sleep on it

Does all this mean that improving poor sleep or good sleep habits can protect you from Alzheimer's? Probably. But it could also mean that quality sleep ought to be a part of a multifaceted effort to stop Alzheimer's, in accordance with Dr. Dickerson.

“Other research has provided strong evidence that aerobic exercise can also help reduce a person's risk,” he says. “Exercise also helps with higher sleep quality, in order that they may match together. Weight loss also plays an element, as people who find themselves obese have more sleep problems.

Until more is thought, Dr. Dickerson suggests the perfect plan of action is to disregard sleep problems, resembling insomnia, lack of sleep, or waking up steadily to make use of the lavatory. “See your doctor for an evaluation,” he says. This can go a good distance toward protecting your little gray cells.