The Findings of the Relationship Between Sleep and Dementia

Posted: May 3, 2021

Dementia is a disease that is caused when there is damage to brain cells. Other contributing factors for this disease include genetics and age. As reported by statistics, at least 50 million individuals are battling this condition. People above the age of 65 are at a higher risk of developing dementia. 

There is no known treatment option for dementia. However, scientists have recently come with new findings. From research done for many years, there are measures that one can take to reduce the risk of getting dementia. One of the findings states that with quality and quantity sleep, the risk of getting this condition is low. A survey done in the United Kingdom indicates that 30% of people who sleep for fewer hours are at risk of developing dementia than those who sleep for more than seven hours. 

In line with the new study, when one is asleep, the brain eliminates waste products. During the day, the brain tends to accumulate proteins known as amyloid-beta. When the proteins accumulate in the brain, one is at high risk of dementia as the brain cells will be damaged. When one does not have quantity and quality sleeps, the brain does not have enough time to cleanse the proteins. If this pattern goes on for a while, the neurons in the brain will be affected. 

According to evidence collected, when one is disrupted from their sleep, there is a high probability of them developing Alzheimer’s as they age. Professor Matthew Walker states that deep sleep plays a vital role in protecting a person from the ailment. The professor explains that when one is asleep, the brain produces slow electrical waves to eliminate the amyloid-betas. The slow-wave is an indication that one is getting quality sleep. Scientists are now looking for ways they can induce the slow waves causing one to sleep deeply. 

As stated by Dr. Yo-El Ju, a professor at Washington University, a reliable way to boost the waves in the brain is by working on the treatment of any existing sleeping disorder. This was a conclusion from research that showed people with sleep apnea were at a high risk of dementia. Research also states that insomnia is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Studies state that adults who have insomnia have a hard time sleeping than the rest of the population. Since one will lack enough sleep because of this sleeping disorder, the brain cannot clear all the toxins. 

How to Get Quality Sleep

From the studies, there is significant evidence that sleep can reduce the risk of one developing dementia. There are things that you need to do to improve the quality and quality of your sleep. Here are a few you can consider. 

Reduce The Intake of Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant. Therefore, it plays a role in altering how the body operates, including its timing. Consequently, you are likely to have a challenge falling asleep. However, when caffeine is avoided, your body will inevitably resume its expected timing, leading to a night of better sleep and a reduction in the risk of dementia. If you must take any beverage with caffeine, ensure that you take it 8 hours before your bedtime schedule. This allows your body to break down the caffeine content. 

Avoid Alcohol

According to studies done, the use of alcohol worsens some sleep disorders such as apnea. As stated above, when one has sleep apnea, it becomes difficult for them to sleep. Alcohol also disrupts sleep as one gets to rest for fewer hours. What is also certain is that alcohol intake affects every individual differently. Even though minimal alcohol intake is known to be safe, it still has an enormous impact on sleep patterns. 

Keep off Electronics at Night

Electronics emit blue light, which is known to be harmful to the eyes. As a result, there is a minimum production of melatonin, a hormone that helps control sleep. It, hence, means that you will have a hard time falling asleep. It is, therefore, advisable for you to stop using any electronic device 30 minutes before bedtime. However, if you have to use any device, ensure to reduce the light in the settings. You can also use your phone to listen to sounds that will quickly induce sleep.

Regular Exercise

Studies state that regular exercise contributes to quality sleep. It also reduces the time that one takes to fall asleep. They play a role in reducing the risk of an increase in weight which causes symptoms of sleep apnea. As a result, this minimizes the possible risk of developing dementia. It is, therefore, recommended for you to choose to either work in the morning or evening three times a week. 

Maintaining a healthy life is also a necessity for quality sleep. Therefore, if your reason for not having adequate sleep is due to a disorder, getting treatment is key. This ensures that you can manage the symptoms. You should note that you cannot divide your sleep hours by day and night. For you to have quality sleep, the hours must be consecutive. As claimed by experts, once you have had adequate sleep, you will have enough energy to conquer the day. 

With all these aspects considered, you should always prioritize having enough sleep to reduce the chance of developing dementia. Even when you are above 50 years, you can still start practicing a good sleep routine. If you have a tough time sleeping, you must consult with your doctor.

Even though evidence collected shows that enough sleep can reduce the risk of dementia, the quantity required is not certain. Scientists are also not making assumptions that sleeping for fewer hours can cause dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association agrees that the relationship between sleep and dementia is not specific. This, hence, calls for more research to be conducted. Future studies aim at providing treatment options and how to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

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