New studies are suggesting that quality sleep can be a big factor in helping to “detoxify” a healthy brain, and keep the development Alzheimer’s in seniors at bay. The obligations of daily living for adults can make it difficult to get the proper amount of rest advised by sleep doctors—a full 8 hours. However, getting a full night’s rest may offer more than just beauty sleep, but also healthy brain sleep to prevent Alzheimer’s in seniors later in life.
Research conducted at the University of Berkeley has shown that disturbed sleep and insufficient amounts of sleep may be contributors to the development of Alzheimer’s disease in seniors. By using brain scans on seniors with and without Alzheimer’s, University scientists determined that a lack of sleep caused a build up of what they call “garbage proteins” in the brain that directly affect the quality of mental cognition.
Understanding that Alzheimer’s disease was a well-known cause of disturbed sleep, these Berkeley researches set out to determine if the opposite proved true as well—can bad sleep cause Alzheimer’s? Scientists noticed a mysterious toxic protein forming in the brains of seniors with habits for poor sleep. Normally, our body uses sleep to metabolize this pesky protein until it evaporates, ceasing to be a threat. However, when sleep is not allowed to do its job, this toxic protein phenomenon may accumulate over time and do damage to a healthy mind. In other words, when ignoring our need for sleep by trying to be productive, we are inadvertently leaving a mess inside our own minds.
When the brains in animals were evaluated before human testing began, similar connections were discovered with sleep deprivation and mental cognition. This garbage protein was found to accumulate in the brains of mice as well, causing their brains to shrink and decay, like Alzheimer’s does to a human mind.
These findings are not completely conclusive, and further study is required, however, in understanding the mechanisms and proteins involved in this terrible memory loss disease, we may be one step closer to curing it soon. While it is tempting to ignore your human need for rest in order to fit in more work or recreation into your day, keep in mind that sleep is just as vital to your health as a good diet or exercise. Do your best to hit the pillow early, because a good night sleep may prevent Alzheimer’s disease.