Deep Sleep Protects Against Alzheimer's
Deep Sleep Protects Against Alzheimer’s
There is growing research that shows that deep sleep protects Alzheimer’s Disease. Deep sleep is the main stage of sleep we are looking at here, as it is the primary time when the brain rids itself of waste products.
A fellow sleep enthusiast, professor of neuroscience and psychology, and author of areWhy We Sleep, Matthew Walker, has been studying this topic along with a team of scientists.
There are two chemicals that are closely associated with Alzheimer’s; beta-amyloid (plaque that builds up in the brain) and tau (toxic tangles that form in brain cells ). As these proteins accumulate in the brain, they disrupt vital neural processes and destroy neurons, which results in our ability to think, remember, and function independently.
Matthew Walker and his team wanted to answer this question:
"Can I look into your future and can I accurately estimate how much beta-amyloid you're going to accumulate over the next two years, the next four years, the next six years, simply on the basis of your sleep tonight?" source
The study included 32 people in their 70s.
The main takeaways of this study:
- Impaired sleep is associated with a higher rate of future beta-amyloid accumulation
- Slow-wave activity and sleep efficiency both forecast this increase in beta-amyloid
- Sleep may serve as a marker of future Alzheimer’s disease risk and the speed of progression
Alzheimer’s and Deep Sleep
The study honed in on the participants' deep sleep, which is when the body’s temperature drops and it produces slow electrical waves. Note that none of these participants had any current memory problems.
The scientists used special brain scans that are able to monitor the level of beta-amyloid in each of these participants for up to 6 years. The results were published and showed that those who got less deep sleep had more beta-amyloid. Through human and rodent research, it has been found that beta-amyloid is removed more rapidly during sleep than during wakefulness.
More deep sleep = More beta-amyloid cleared from the brain = Less risk of dementia
What Else Happens During Deep Sleep?
- Energy restoration
- Increasing blood supply to muscles
- Promoting growth and repair of tissues and bones
- Brain processes information
- Supports memory
- Cell regeneration
- Strengthening the immune system
The best way to ensure you are getting enough deep sleep is to prioritize and set aside those non-negotiable 8 hours devoted to sleep. If you’re constantly waking up exhausted, this means you aren’t getting into that deep sleep state long enough to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. There are ways to test deep sleep that involve tracking breathing rate, body temperature, body movement, and brain waves.
Important: poor sleep doesn’t always lead to Alzheimer’s disease, but it sure does mitigate the risks for it.
If you need some guidance on how to ensure you are getting the sleep you need for the most optimal brain and body health or need more information about sleep disorders, read more here.
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