Alzheimer’s Needs to Be Put to Bed, Literally9 months ago | Sleep
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
A little boy by the name of Joshua Trump recently made headlines after he was caught sound asleep at President Trump’s SOTU address. Luckily for Joshua, he’s a child. So people laughed and thought it was adorable. As a child, you can get away with sleeping anywhere, any time!
As adults we can’t just sleep whenever we want. We do, however, really need to be proactive about getting enough quality sleep. As we have discussed before, sleep deprivation can lead to poor decision-making, stress, a weakened immune system and weight gain.
Perhaps, most important of all, sleep helps keep our brains healthy.
“When one sleeps, the brain reorganizes and recharges itself, and removes toxic waste byproducts which have accumulated throughout the day. This evidence demonstrates that sleeping can clear the brain and help maintain its normal functioning,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
And now, a recent study found that a lack of sleep may contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
“It’s long been recognized that Alzheimer’s disease is associated with the gradual accumulation of beta-amyloid peptides and tau proteins, which form plaques and tangles that are considered hallmarks of the disease. It has only more recently become clear that, while beta-amyloid is an early sign of the disease, tau deposits track more closely with disease progression and a person’s cognitive decline,” according to one NIH article discussing the recent research.
Researchers conducted a sleep study with both mice and people and found that sleep deprivation may cause more tau “to be released, accumulate and spread in toxic tangles within brain areas important for memory.”
With the mice, researchers observed that tau levels in brain fluid practically doubled when the mice were awake. (Obviously, we cannot sleep all day so it is normal and expected to have higher tau levels during our normal waking hours). But the research also revealed that sleep deprivation caused tau levels in brain fluid to double once again. Similar results were seen in human studies.
What’s interesting is that people with Alzheimer’s tend to have issues with sleeping, which means that sleep issues may be an early indicator of having Alzheimer’s. So if you have trouble sleeping, do not take this issue lightly. Seek medical advice and discuss with a competent healthcare professional what you can do to start getting better sleep. For useful tips on how to get better sleep, keep in mind ideally you need seven to nine hours per night, read here.
Nutrition & Tau
Credible evidence has suggested that eating healthily may prevent higher tau levels in the brain. For example, following the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes and healthy fats such as fatty fish, may keep higher tau levels at bay.
As with any illness, following an anti-inflammatory as opposed to a pro-inflammatory diet appears to be one of the best preventative strategies.
(Getting adequate exercise may also help control tau levels).
Nutrients for Good Sleep
There is also a lot you can do nutritionally to help you get good sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are “certain fruits that contain melatonin may help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night. For instance, tart cherry juice and whole tart cherries contain a lot of melatonin, and bananas, pineapple, and oranges are also sources. If you have insomnia, eating two kiwis before bed can increase your sleep duration by an hour over the course of a month. Other fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants (like berries, prunes, raisins, and plums) may have a similar effect by helping to counteract the oxidative stress caused by a sleep disorder.”
In addition to this, “Foods that are high in lean protein, like cottage cheese, also pack the amino acid tryptophan, which may increase serotonin levels. Serotonin is a brain chemical and low levels of it can contribute to insomnia. To sweeten it up, top the cottage cheese with raspberries, which are rich sources of melatonin.”
Getting adequate magnesium is also very important in getting a good night’s rest. This mineral is important for over 300 reactions in the body. It may help you combat insomnia.
(Read here to learn about the many types of magnesium supplements that are available).
Finally, it is highly recommended to take routine nutrient tests. Identifying whether you have any nutrient imbalances, either too much or too little of a certain nutrient, may help find the imposter behind any health or sleep issues you may be having. Once you have this invaluable information, you can work with a competent healthcare professional on making the necessary dietary changes and/or possibly find quality supplements to take.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.