Why Sleeping Well Now, Matters for Later

alzheimers, dementia, memory loss, sleep apnea, seniors

Have you ever noticed that when you don’t get enough sleep at night your concentration and focus takes a hit the next day?  Almost like you’re in a daze or fog. Do I still have your attention, or did you forget what you were doing?

If you’re still with me, sleep affects your memory, concentration, and focus.  In fact, when we think about the purpose of sleep this comes into play. In evolutionary terms, sleep doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Why would we make ourselves vulnerable to predators during this time? If we are going to make ourselves vulnerable, it must be for a VERY good reason.  There are several theories out there that attempt to answer the ‘why we sleep’ question.

Brain Plasticity Theory refers to the concept that the brain takes this time to remodel.  We aren’t talking kitchen remodel here. Our brains reorganize all of our memories and information from the previous day so that we can properly retrieve it when we wake up for the new day.  This concept might be familiar if you have heard about recent Alzheimer’s research.

This preliminary study has started a bigger discussion to continue to learn, but one thing is for certain.  Sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s have a connection. It is thought that the lack of REM sleep and loss of oxygen during apnea events accelerates the process that creates a protein buildup in our brains, that then leads to Alzheimer’s. This protein is commonly referred to as “plaque

Turns out, sleep has a purpose, and it’s vitally important that we sleep before the twilight of our years and have to worry about the onset of Alzheimer’s.  This plaque can build up over time, and if we don’t get the necessary sleep it prevents our body from doing its job. Experts say the relationship indicates that treating sleep apnea could slow the progression for those in the early stages of the as-yet-incurable disease.

Blog Preview: The next 4 blog posts will cover current Evolutionary Theories of Sleep.  See you there.

 

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