(AscendHealthy.com) – It’s remarkable how much a good night’s sleep can rejuvenate our minds. But deep slumber can boost our brains in another way. It can actually fend off disease too. New research has uncovered why sleep is so critical to potentially preventing one disease in particular. We have more details for you in the article below.
Our brains go through a process of cleansing every night while we sleep. When we don’t get enough sleep, this process is interrupted. The result may be a build-up of plaque on brain tissue, which may ultimately lead to dementia. We have the scoop on how sleep may prevent this condition and how much sleep we should get to lower the risks.
Need Another Excuse to Get a Good Night’s Sleep? We’ve Got a Big One!
What Is the Relationship Between Sleep and Dementia?
The relationship between sleep and dementia is complicated. Researchers have found that different types of dementia are closely associated with specific sleep problems. They’re still uncertain about how the interaction works. Does poor sleep exacerbate or cause dementia? Or does dementia lead to poor sleep? Some experts believe the answer to both questions is yes. They think the relationship could be circular.
Ground-breaking new research from Boston University indicates our brains go through a “cleansing” cycle while we sleep. They believe this cleansing helps ward off diseases, including dementia. There have been other studies showing our brains are working, not resting while we sleep.
The glymphatic system in our bodies is in charge of waste and toxin clearance from the central nervous system. When we’re awake, proteins accumulate and spike in our brains. They’re called amyloid-betas. Researchers believe they are waste products from the communication of brain cells throughout the day. While we sleep, our glymphatic system flushes those amyloid-betas, preventing them from collecting into plaques and damaging the neurons.
If we don’t get adequate sleep every night, the brain doesn’t have a chance to clear these precursor proteins effectively. The build-up of amyloid-beta proteins damages the neurons, and they have been associated with dementia. Scientists believe when these proteins form plaque on brain tissues, it is the first stage development of Alzheimer’s. Other studies show getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night lowers the risk of dementia and early death.
Quality and Quantity of Sleep
It’s important to get plenty of sleep every night, but it’s also just as crucial that we get good quality sleep. Poor sleep is associated with Alzheimer’s, according to research from the Washington University School of Medicine. People with the disease typically report waking up tired. Many of them say their nights are becoming even less refreshing as symptoms, including memory loss, worsen.
Our brains sweep out amyloid proteins during the deep sleep phase or slow-wave sleep. Our memories are also consolidated during this sleep phase. The study shows that when sleep is interrupted during the slow-wave REM period, the amyloid plaque on the brain tissue increases.
Poor Sleep Consequences
People who don’t get enough sleep don’t just have to worry about dementia either. Doctors say poor sleep may lead to many health problems throughout the body, including:
- Weight issues
- Thyroid dysfunction
The thyroid problems result from hormone dysregulation. Like the brain cleansing, our bodies also reset hormones during the deep sleep phase.
In addition to degenerative diseases like dementia, not getting enough sleep may lead to depression, anxiety, and diminished memory. If we have underlying sleep disorders or don’t sleep long enough, we are at higher risk for these conditions.
While researchers can’t definitively state what minimum amount of sleep is necessary to avoid the risk of plaque build-up completely, they have shown an association between sleep deprivation and dementia. There is a trend. As of yet, The Alzheimer’s Association says it’s still too soon to declare it a causal relationship.
Research is continuing, and current indications may be enough for those who don’t get enough sleep to be concerned and reconsider their slumber schedules.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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