Not getting enough sleep can increase the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. You know by now that sleep is essential to brain function, but did you know that sleep deprivation is also linked to early signs of Alzheimer’s disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is associated with a greater amount of a certain protein (beta-amyloid) in the brain and nervous system. While you’re getting some shut-eye, your brain is busy cleaning out these toxins that contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that even one night of not getting the appropriate amount of sleep increases this protein in the cerebral spinal fluid.
Sleep is associated with clearing metabolic waste out of the system. If you don’t get enough sleep over a period of time, the beta-amyloid stays in your system. The build-up of beta-amyloid is linked to early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Nearly 50 million people worldwide live with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s and dementia are the top causes of disability later in life. The Alzheimer Association predicts a 68% increase in dementia in lower and middle-class countries by 2015.
How to get better quality sleep
If you’re struggling to sleep, there are some ways to get better quality sleep:
Increase bright light exposure
Our bodies have a circadian rhythm. Getting more bright light during the day helps your body, mind, and hormones stay awake during the day and settle down and sleep at night. Try getting into the sunlight daily or invest in a bright light bulb.
Don’t consume caffeine late in the day
Caffeine stimulates the nervous systems which encourages your body to stay awake. Quit consuming caffeine at least six hours before bed.
Have a bedtime routine
Have a routine before bedtime such as reading a book or taking a bath. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, allowing for at least 7 hours of sleep if possible.
Reduce blue light exposure
Smartphones, tablets, computers and even your TV emit a blue light. This light tricks your body into thinking it’s daytime and so it doesn’t release melatonin. This could cause you to have trouble falling asleep or wake up in the middle of the night. If you need to use your devices you can:
- Download an app to block blue light on your computer or smartphone
- Wear glasses that block blue light
- Stop watching TV for at least an hour before bed
The most important tool: A good mattress
A good mattress is one of the most important tools for getting good sleep quality. How do you know if you need a new mattress?
- You are tired all the time
- You Toss and turn all night
- Your current mattress is sagging
- You can’t get comfortable on your mattress
How to choose the right mattress
There are a few things to look for when choosing a mattress:
- Your body should be distributed evenly across the sleeping surface
- While laying down, your body should be well supported across the shoulders, hips, back, and ribs
- Your spine should be aligned in a neutral position with the rest of your body
- Type of mattress (memory foam, gel, spring coil, pillow-top, etc.)
Sleep is important to overall health and brain function. Lack of sleep is tied to various health conditions including early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. By having good sleep habits and sleeping on the right mattress, you can improve your health and reduce your risk for serious health conditions.