If you or someone you love suffer from insomnia, the consequences can be far more serious than being grumpy or tired. Studies are revealing that lack of sleep may result in Alzheimer’s.
According to the “Center for Disease Control and Prevention” lack of sleep has become a health epidemic. It is estimated that about 50-70 American adults have sleep or wakefulness issues which at times can affect daily life. Things such as driving, studying, and the like become difficult to manage. It can even affect our mental health, with people having to deal with anxiety and depression.
Scientists and researchers are now telling us that sleep is as important as diet and exercise. Other health issues related to lack of sleep include but are not limited to:
- Trouble with concentration and thinking
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Mood imbalance
- Weakened immune system
- Risk of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Risk for diabetes
- Low sex drive
- Poor balance
But why Alzheimer’s? Enter the “Glymphatic System” When we sleep it basically drives metabolite clearance from the brain. In other words, those toxins built up in the neurons and synaptic connections in the brain are scrubbed and flushed away by sleep. But we need sleep in order for the brain to activate this system and clean itself out. Without sleep, the metabolic waste builds up in our brain. But with sleep, the glymphatic system along with the cerebral spinal fluid goes to work.
According to Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, “The restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-product of neural activity that accumulates during wakefulness. Sleep is critical in ensuring metabolic function homeostasis. Using real-time assessment of tetramethylammonium diffusion and photon imaging in live mice. We have shown that natural sleep or anesthesia are associated with a 60% increase in interstitial space, resulting in a striking increase in the connective exchange of cerebral spinal fluid with interstitial fluid. This, in turn, increases the removal of amyloid during sleep. Thus the restorative function of sleep may be a consequence of that enhanced removal of potentially neurotoxic waste products that accumulate in the awake central nervous system.”
In other words, while you are busy sleeping the brain is busy sweeping and mopping the floors and taking out the trash. That’s why it is so important to get your nightly dose of sleep.
So if you are not pulling 8 hours of sleep nightly are you destined to get Alzheimer’s disease? No, not necessarily. Once upon a time before the advent of the incandescent light bulb, and long before 24-hour news, and an endless stream of the information highway, there was sunrise and sunset. Yes back when our ancestors did not have the disadvantage of living in modern life, they had work, food, play, and sleep. But when the sun went down at 7:00 PM the brain started to be flooded with melatonin. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”. Our bodies worked in a natural rhythm with nature.
If you can’t sleep a full 8 hours nightly then what should you do? Sleep in chunks. In other words, sleep 4 hours, then catch another 4 hours, take naps. My schedule allows me to sleep 6 hours. I get up at 6:00 AM every morning. I work from 7:00 AM until 12:00. At noon I rest for 2 hours and then work another 9. My situation is ideal really. I also understand that not everyone has this schedule so it is important to work with what we have.
I also know that we are constantly bombarded with tons of information about “What happens if we don’t get enough sleep.” You and I both know we need sleep. Set a goal for yourself as far as sleep goes. Make the goal attainable. Setting the bar too high will only cause more trouble for you. If you would like information about natural ways to fall asleep visit our blog post
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