Lack of appropriate sleep could indicate Alzheimer’s development

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“Enough sleep is just as important for good health as nutrition and exercise”, this one sentence embodies the importance of sleep for good health. There have been several studies undertaken to scientifically prove that good sleeping habits help preserve the brain and body’s health.

Findings from these studies have shown that diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart problems are closely linked to sleep issues. The thing about these diseases is that they can be treated and controlled through regimented lifestyle changes. But did you know that poor sleep and the dreaded disease Alzheimer’s are also closely linked? The challenge with Alzheimer’s is that symptoms develop slowly and get worse over time. Taking timely preventive action is the only remedy.

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What is Alzheimer's disease (AD)?

Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. It is said to occur due to degeneration of brain cells. This is attributed to the excessive presence of two (waste) proteins in our brain called Tau and Amyloid-beta. Poor or disturbed sleep aids in building-up of these proteins in excess which damages brain tissues and nerve cells affecting the cognitive ability of the person.


How is sleep and Alzheimer's connected??

Sleep is known as the “Elixir” of life as Quality Sleep or deep sleep helps our body to flush out the dangerous toxins whose presence adversely affects the overall body’s functioning. Like our other major organs our brain also releases certain toxins and only quality sleep helps to flush these out of our system. A sleep-deprived brain on the other hand impedes this process causing build-up of these two harmful proteins that eventually damage the nerves and cells within the brain.

Doctors today have studies to prove that sleeping habits have a direct impact on the progress of this disease i.e. people who are deprived of quality sleep over a prolonged period are more susceptible to this disease. The brain studies carried out on AD patients and those suffering from sleep disorders have shown similar results i.e. in both these patients the levels of these proteins are elevated. Therefore, doctors today believe that prolonged sleeplessness or excessive day-time drowsiness could be an early indicator for AD.

Symptoms to watch for...

The signs that you should look out for are;

  1. Sleeping more than 8-9 hours at night but still feeling tired and drowsy in the morning.
  2. Not getting enough sleep at night i.e. less than 8-9 hours
  3. Napping for long hours during the day.
  4. Finding it difficult to fall asleep.

There is still a lot of research underway to understand better the connection between sleep and AD. However, till date every research converges to the same conclusion that the key to keep AD at bay lies in attaining quality sleep night-after-night. Quality sleep is the only thing that helps repair thedamage done to ourbrain and body during the day. Here are some tips that will help you achieve quality sleep.

  1. Maintain regularity in meal time, sleeping, waking, and exercising.
  2. Increase your body’s exposure to sunlight.
  3. Limit consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine.
  4. Maintain an apt environment in the bedroom that helps induce sleep.
  5. Avoid watching television, playing games, or reading during the period of sleeplessness.

It is necessary to try out the above non-medicated options to managing sleep cycle however, if problem persists then you must consult a doctor for proper guidance.



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