Throughout our lives, it’s common for our sleeping habits to change. When we were babies, we slept as much as 18 hours every day. As we entered our teenage years, we needed about eight to ten hours of nightly sleep. However, adults leading active, busy lifestyles often find it difficult to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night, simply because there never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done.
Likewise, seniors often experience changes in their sleep patterns. Many older adults have trouble falling and staying asleep throughout the entire night, or changes in their circadian rhythms cause them to feel sleepier much earlier in the evening or wake up very early in the morning, way before the sun even rises.
Lack of Sleep: One of the Causes of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Recently, the journal Neurology published a study regarding the link between sleep and Alzheimer’s disease. This study gathered 101 healthy, older adults with an average age of 63 who all had known risk factors for Alzheimer’s including family history. A standard scale was utilized to measure their quality of sleep, how much they slept and if they experienced daytime drowsiness or napped regularly. The participants also agreed to undergo a lumbar puncture so researchers could analyze their spinal fluid.
The study found that the protein known as amyloid, which is responsible for clogging the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, rose with poor sleep. The participants who experienced sleep issues were also more likely to show evidence of brain cell damage and inflammation. This aligns with the researcher’s idea that poor sleep may contribute to a higher level of Alzheimer’s-related proteins in the brain.
A separate study conducted by Washington University’s Sleep Medicine Center also found that healthy, middle-age individuals who slept badly for even just one night produced an increased amount of beta-amyloid in their brains. A full week of disrupted sleep increased the amount of tau, another protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Improving Sleep Habits for Better Brain Health
What these findings reveal is that seven to eight hours of sleep is essential to better brain health, as well as to perhaps slow the onset of Alzheimer’s. While one night of poor sleep may not increase your risk, if you have chronic sleeping problems, it’s important to seek effective treatment sooner rather than later. Regardless, a good night’s sleep is something everyone should be striving for. Along with possibly delaying Alzheimer’s disease, sleep also allows the brain proper recovery time which can improve your memory and thought processes overall, make your mind sharper throughout the day, and even boost your mood, decreasing the risk of depression.
American Senior Communities offers a person-centered, wellness-based model of dementia care within our Auguste’s Cottage program and our assisted living memory care apartments throughout our locations. Contact us today to request more information.