A recent study revealed that sleep loss might be tied to Alzheimer’s.
The study, published in the journal Neurology, looked at the sleep cycles of 101 subjects with an average age of 63.
Researchers found a correlation between poor sleep quality and increased spinal fluid. Spinal fluid levels are a known early indication of Alzheimer’s disease.
To ensure the study’s accuracy, researchers took into account various genetic factors, such as a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or the presence of the ApoE gene, both of which are known to increase the risk of a later onset of Alzheimer’s.
What links poor sleep to Alzheimer’s? At this point in the study, researchers are unsure.
However, at least one study on the sleep habits of animals suggest that sleeping helps clear the brain of the various toxins associated with Alzheimer’s, toxins like beta amyloid.
Sleep loss, these studies suggest, might affect the brain’s ability to combat these toxins naturally.
Should you be worried if you’re not sleeping well?
Barbara B. Bendlin, the senior author of the study, suggests such a conclusion might be premature. She told the New York Times that “Not everyone with sleep problems is destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease.” Barbara B. Bendlin currently works as an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
She stated: “We’re looking at groups of people, and over the whole group we find the association of poor sleep with the markers of Alzheimer’s. But when you look at individuals, not everyone shows that pattern.”
So while not everyone who has trouble sleeping should worry about developing Alzheimer’s, the studies do suggest that proper sleep can help the brain remove the toxins that lead to Alzheimer’s in the first place.
A larger study was done in Sweden, studying 1,000 men from the years of 1970 to 2010. A similar study, at John Hopkins University, reported the same findings. Researchers Temple University also tested for results on genetically modified mice, finding links between sleep loss and memory impairment.
This adds evidence to the number of other ways that proper sleep can improve the quality of life for seniors.
If you are getting poor sleep, there are a number of steps you can take. According to Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine, steps for a healthy sleep include cutting caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and other stimulants.
Other steps include keeping your bedroom dark and cool, relaxing before bed, sleeping when you are tired, and keeping a consistent schedule.
Also, did you know that reading, chess, and other intellectually stimulating activities can actually reduce your chance of Alzheimer’s disease?
A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed the link between intellectually stimulating activities and a reduction of Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies also showed that those who frequently watch TV are more prone to Alzheimer’s, while academics working in the humanities (who are constantly reading) are even less prone to Alzheimer’s. Having a healthy brain means making use of it!
There are also a number of dietary measures you can take to improve the quality of your sleep.
Here are six food that can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by giving you a quieter, healthier sleep.
1. Foods Rich in Vitamin C and E
Studies show that foods like broccoli, red peppers, strawberries, and currants offer a great source of Vitamin C, antioxidants that can neutralize the harmful toxins linked to Alzheimer’s, helping your brain get a healthy, uninterrupted sleep.
Another important source of help in the fight against Alzheimer’s is Vitamin E, as a study at Chicago’s Rush Institute for Healthy Aging at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center showed.
People who ate foods rich in Vitamin E, the study showed, were 67 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
A major ingredient in Indian and Mediterranean cuisine, and people from these regions tend to develop Alzheimer’s less frequently.
Studies confirm the link between brain performance and foods rich in curry. The protein amyloid, a compound linked to Alzheimer’s, is affected by curcumin, an ingredient in curry and natural antioxidant.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids such as DHA are found in fatty fish, and offer a significant source of the nutrition need for better brain function, thus reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Where can you find such fatty acids? Aside from natural supplements, a number of foods are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, including flaxseed, olive oil, walnuts, and fish like herring, salmon, and white tuna.
4. Food and Drink Rich in Flavonoids
Flavonoids are a type of polyphenol, a natural defense mechanism that plants use against solar radiation. Flavonoids fall into this category, and work as a powerful antioxidant when consumed.
What foods contain flavonoids? Typically, you find such flavonoids in fruits such as grapefruit, apples, cranberries, and blueberries.
You can also find flavonoids in a number of vegetables, including peas, spinach, onions, lima beans, kidney beans, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage, garlic, Brussel sprouts, and asparagus.
Drinking fruit and vegetable juices, one study showed, works as a significant deterrent against the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Red Wine
Although alcohol might not be the best thing for healthy sleep, wine actually remains an exception to the rule.
A study on the subject was conducted in France, a country well-known for its love of wine.
It actually showed an incredible reduction in Alzheimer’s disease markers for those who regularly consumed three four once glasses of wine a day, dropping their risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 75 percent.
6. Folate-rich Foods
A deficiency of B vitamins, such as Folate, can have a definite effect on the brain’s cognitive ability. This means that a folate deficiency puts one at risk for Alzheimer’s.
Even low to moderate levels of B6 and B12 vitamins will work to keep homocysteine levels controlled and regulated, keeping the brain healthy and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Proper sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle, improving your cognitive function dramatically. For seniors at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, healthy sleep habits are even more essential.
The growing medical literature on this topic continues to reinforce the link between high quality sleep and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
If you are getting poor sleep, developing the right daily and dietary habits to mend this sleep loss can go a long way towards warding the risk of Alzheimer’s, leading to a healthier, higher functioning lifestyle during your golden years.