We’ve all heard of the side effects of a lack of adequate sleep each night; grogginess, weight gain, sleepiness, irritability. We may brush these symptoms off, thinking that maybe they aren’t that major. But what about loss of memory as a side effect of not getting sufficient sleep at night? Recent studies are showing that “poor sleep in old age may be linked to the brain-clogging plaques thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Still think that not getting enough sleep isn’t a big deal?
According to University of California, Berkeley, neuroscientist Bryce Mander, “Sleep appears to be a missing piece in the Alzheimer’s puzzle, and enhancing sleep may lessen the cognitive burden that Alzheimer’s disease imparts.” Mander and his associates also found that it is a lack of deep, restorative sleep that may cause the beta-amloid plaques (that cause Alzheimer’s disease) to build up on the brain. These deep levels of sleep are actually where “sharp wave ripples” occur and work to consolidate memories. These ripples are responsible for transferring learned information from the hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain, where our long-term memories are kept. Without this deep level of sleep, our memories and learned information may stay in our short-term memory bank.
In Mander’s study, 26 mentally healthy, 70-79 year old, adults were assessed to see the amount of plaque buildup on their brains. Before going to sleep, the patients were asked to remember sets of words. During their sleep, researchers measured each patient’s brainwaves and when they awoke, asked them again the sets of words they were given the night before. The study showed that patients with the highest levels of plaque on their brains were those who had lighter sleep at night and also suffered from higher levels of memory issues.
Mander goes on to say that the study “suggests, but does not prove, that insufficient deep sleep contributes to a reduced ability to cement memories in the brain over the long-term, resulting in greater memory loss.” Many experts also agree that sleep disorders are often reported in many Alzheimer’s patients.
Dr. Ricardo Osorio, research assistant at the Center for Brain Health states that “insomnia has been shown to promote cognitive decline in the elderly, and sleep apnea both increases the risk for developing Alzheimer’s and reduces the age of onset of Alzheimer’s.”
Just like you have been hearing all along, sleep is a vitally important part of life, and getting better sleep each night may be able to increase memory and ultimately lessen your risk of developing Alzheimer’s later in life.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it is imperative that you participate in CPAP or BiPAP therapy to improve your quality and quantity of sleep. If you aren’t sure where to start, Aeroflow Healthcare can help. Aeroflow Healthcare offers a great selection of CPAP and BiPAP machines and supplies, and you may be able to get yours covered through insurance. Simply fill out our Qualify Through Insurance form and one of our Patient Care Representatives will review your insurance information and contact you to discuss your coverage and options.
Good sleep is important to living a long and healthy life. Start getting better sleep tonight!