Updated: Aug 25
By Oran Aviv
Recent research has shown that when you don't get enough sleep, the brain becomes less effective in clearing waste products. Over time, this accumulation may contribute to an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
We consider this new research so important, that we want to reshare our series of sleep blog posts to help you sleep better and protect your brain.
Our Brain’s Cleansing System
Did you know that our brain has its own sewage system that flushes out waste products from our brain? This recently discovered waste clearance system is called the glymphatic system which works similarly to the lymphatic system in the rest of the body. but is specific to the brain.
What is amazing is that the glymphatic system plays an important role in clearing away metabolic waste products, including beta-amyloid and tau proteins. These are the same plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Obviously, we want our glymphatic system to do its optimum work to clear out these waste products from our brains. During sleep, the glymphatic system becomes much more active compared to when we are awake. During sleep, the cerebrospinal fluid is able to flush through the brain more efficiently. This increased flow of cerebrospinal fluid helps to clear out the accumulated waste products, including those linked to Alzheimer's disease.
However, sleep deprivation or disrupted sleep patterns can hinder the proper functioning of the glymphatic system. When you don't get enough sleep, the brain's waste clearance process becomes less effective, and waste products can build up in the brain. Over time, this accumulation may contribute to an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
If you are not sleeping well or not sleeping enough, you may be compromising your brain health. Most research suggests that the average adult requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal cognitive function and overall health.
If you aren’t sleeping well and want to improve your sleep, we have 4 blog posts to help you sleep better. Of course, you first need to make the decision to make sleep a top priority.
Prevent Insomnia Sleep Tip #1 - Be Timeless
Clients who aren’t sleeping well often tell me that they wake up at the same time each night. How do they know this? They look at their alarm clock, smartphone, or watch.
What often happens, is that people start to program themselves to wake up at the same time because they keep looking at the clock. The brain says – oh, it’s 3:00 AM, time for me to wake up.
My suggestion is to not check the time when you wake up at night. If you have an alarm clock by your bed, turn that clock around so you won't know what time it is when you wake up at night.
Once clients stop noting the times that they woke up, the wake-up pattern changes and many begin to sleep through the night.
You can read the other 9 tips for habits you can do before going to sleep to prevent insomnia and help you fall asleep easier and sleep better.
Our tips include:
· Be Timeless
· Embrace darkness
· Cell Phones
· Magnesium supplements
You can read these tips in our blog post Sleep Well – Part 1 https://www.hands-ondementia.com/post/sleep-well-part-i
Fall Asleep & Fall Back to Sleep
Not being able to fall asleep or not being able to fall back to sleep can be very stressful. Sleep Tip #11 – Food and Drink What you eat or drink at night might be keeping you awake.
Caffeine can keep us awake and it is not just found in coffee. Green teas, black teas, and all teas that are not herbal and/or without caffeine may keep you from falling asleep. Colas with caffeine may do the same.
Chocolate also contains caffeine as well as sugar – both can affect your sleep. Think about the kids who become hyper after having too much sugar. That is not the state you want to be in before falling asleep!
Citrus fruits should also be avoided. They can increase your mental stimulation and give you more energy – not something you want before bed! For this reason, I only take a vitamin C supplement in the morning.
A quick check on cocnsumerlab.com showed that other supplements may also cause insomnia:
“Some supplements, especially energy drinks, weight loss supplements, and cocoa products, as well as red yeast rice, garlic, policosanol, DHEA, chromium and high doses of vitamin D, vitamin b-12, potassium and coenzyme Q10 might interfere with sleep.”
Certain medications may also cause insomnia, so check all medications and supplements to see if they may be the cause of sleep issues. You can read our other 9 tips to help you fall asleep or fall back to sleep in our blog post "Sleep Well - Part 2." Our tips includ how what you eat and what you wear may affect your sleep, how homeopathy may help and some tricks to get your mind to relax.
We also show how hand reflexology can help you sleep better.
You can learn these tips in our blog post:
Sleep Well for Brain Health
When a client comes to me with numerous health complaints that include poor sleep, we will always try to deal with the sleep issue first. Many times, once a client has improved sleep, that alone may reduce many of the other health complaints.
We spend a third of our lives sleeping! There must be a good reason for this and there is. It is at night, when we sleep, that our brain jumps into action to heal and repair damaged cells. If we don’t sleep well, we don’t allow our immune system to do its job.
It is not true that we need less sleep as we age. We still should get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night.
If you are not yet convinced about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, you can learn more in this blog post "Sleep Well for Brain Health." We also have some more sleep tips including ways to quiet your mind and using Bach Flower Remedies.
Read our Blog Post Sleep Well for Brain Health
Train Yourself to Sleep
In this, the last of our 4 part series on how to improve your sleep, we teach you a routine to help you fall asleep or fall back asleep.
The routine includes:
A Body Scan
To learn the Sleep Routing see our blog post: Train Yourself to Sleep
We will also be sharing these individual tips over the next few weeks on social media - so follow us!
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