Poor sleep is potentially associated with Alzheimer’s

Poor sleep is associated with buildup of the toxic Alzheimer’s Protein. Did you know that restful sleep is required for us to repair injuries and to store and save our memories? If you are not getting enough sleep each night, you may be at an increased risk of poor memory and of developing Alzheimer’s disease in the long run.  In the short term though, you may not recover from illness and injuries as you should resulting in chronic pain or illness.
Good, restful and restorative sleep is essential not only for memory retention, but also tissue and cellular repair, proper hormone production and release, cardiovascular health and even healthy social and emotional relationships.

In a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers at University of California, Berkeley, found evidence that poor sleep, specifically a deficit of deep sleep, is associated with a buildup of the beta-amyloid protein. Excessive deposits of these proteins are the primary suspects in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease, as this toxic protein ends up attacking the brain’s long-term memory.

This correlation between sleep, beta-amyloid, memory, and Alzheimer’s disease has been growing stronger. But, quality sleep prevents these toxic proteins from accumulating and destroying brain cells.  A study from University of Rochester in 2013 found that the brain cells of mice actually shrunk during non-rapid-eye-movement (non-REM) sleep to free up space for the cerebrospinal fluid to wash out toxic metabolites such as beta-amyloid protein.

Overall, the results of the new study demonstrated that the more beta-amyloid you have in certain parts of your brain, the worse your memory. In addition, the less sleep you get, the less effective you are at clearing out beta-amyloid protein. Researchers do not know yet which of these two factors – the poor sleep or the build-up of beta-amyloid protein – triggers this vicious cycle.

This is a new pathway linking Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss is very significant since we can do something about it. Poor sleep is treatable and can be improved by modifying sleep habits and diet. It is important that you go to sleep around the same time every night. When the time of your sleep is shifted even if the duration of sleep is the same, it’s not going to be as restorative. In addition, avoid watching TV or using your computer before bed. Computer screens (smartphones and laptops) emit light in the blue part of the spectrum. This doesn’t cause a problem during the daytime, but at night, this blue light limits the production of melatonin which is a hormone your body releases after the sun goes down to help you sleep. The result of the lowered melatonin levels is a disturbance of your sleep-wake cycle.

There are free apps you can install on your computer if you absolutely need to be on your computer at night that adjust the colors in a way that reduces the stimulating effects of the blue light at night.
Caffeine and other stimulants can also keep you up and interfere with sleep. It is best to avoid these four to six hours before bedtime. And, while many believe that an alcoholic beverage will cause relaxation and make sleep better, it simply isn’t true.  In healthy individuals alcohol can help them fall asleep faster, but alcohol induced sleep is often interrupted in the second stage of sleep which is thought to be the restorative or healing phase of sleep.  Additionally alcohol tends to initiate and perpetuate sleep disorders like sleep apnea.  Other OTC and prescription sleep aids work similarly to alcohol, as sedatives, and should not be used long term.

Eating late at night can also affect your sleep patterns.  If you eat before bed, your food may not digest properly because as the body changes its physiology for sleep, less stomach acids are produced.  Food can then sit in your stomach and intestines undigested causing gas, bloating or even late night trips to the bathroom.  Also, eating late at night, especially sweets, decreases the amount of HGH (human growth hormone) that is produced and released.  It is HGH that initiates tissue repair and cellular regeneration.

Did you know that chiropractic patients report better quality of sleep than patients who do not received chiropractic care?  This is because chiropractic adjustments positively influence the nervous system to help it coordinate bodily functions more optimally.  Adjustments “turn down the noise” so to speak by removing stress from your nervous system.  When your spine is more properly aligned, the body can remove focus from that particular stressor and devote more of your body’s energy to healing, proper hormone productions, etc.

Finally, try to work out earlier in the day. Exercise increases cortisol and can make falling asleep very difficult. If you must work out later in the evening, try taking a relaxing bath afterwards and dim the lights in your shower so that you can create a relaxing effect, rather than a “wake-up” effect on your body.

If behavior and lifestyle modifications are not enough, there are nutrients and botanical agents that can significantly promote restful sleep without the unwanted side effects of interrupted sleep or lack of REM sleep. Valerian Root, German Chamomile, Passion Flower, and Lemon Balm are all calming botanicals used for centuries to help with insomnia. They have all been shown to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep as well as improve sleep quality.

Melatonin is a hormone whose primary role is in controlling the body’s circadian rhythm. While adequate levels of melatonin are essential for quality sleep, its production declines significantly as we get older, often causing sleep difficulty associated with aging. Thus, supplementing with melatonin has been shown to improve sleep quality. In addition 5-HTP can further support endogenous melatonin production during the night to help with staying asleep. Inositol is a member of the B vitamin family that promotes relaxation and helps maintain the proper metabolism of serotonin. In addition, L-theanine provides calming neurotransmitter production clinically proven to reduce stress and improve the quality of sleep.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Sleep deprivation can have catastrophic effects on your health, but aimlessly trying one thing after the next be frustrating and possibly make your sleep problem an even bigger issue in your day-to-day life.  When it comes to supplementing with hormones like Melatonin and 5-HTP, ask for help from a professional who is experienced in working with these supplements because improper dosing and application can complicate your sleep issues.

If you wish to avoid yet another prescription seek a professional whose philosophy aligns with your goals of finding safe, natural solutions.  I’m here to help, just call(239) 243-8735 and schedule your consultation.

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