Sleep offers new hope for both predicting and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep quality deteriorates as we get older. And this is linked to a decline in memory. But in people living with Alzheimer’s disease, the disruption of sleep is far worse, and sleep disturbances start many years before the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. This could mean that sleep problems are actually an early warning sign of this disease.
Recent research has gone a step further and shown that the sleep you’re having right now is a forecast of your future. Your sleep quality now tells you when and how fast Alzheimer’s disease will develop in your brain. Sleep science can estimate, with some degree of accuracy, a time frame for when Alzheimer’s is most likely to strike in a person’s life.
This sort of prediction without any prevention measure wouldn’t be much help. But the silver lining here is that getting your full complement of deep sleep every night gives you the best chance of preventing Alzheimer’s. When you’re in deep, slow-wave sleep the brain’s deep cleaning team, glial cells, go to work cleaning up the toxic proteins that kill brain cells and ultimately cause Alzheimer’s disease.
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